Residents, visitors have concerns about enforcing COVID-19 restrictions at Manitoba beaches

Hundreds of people flocked to Grand Beach on Saturday as temperatures in southern Manitoba soared, but a resident who lives near the beach says the crowds are concerning.

David Vandale lives in Grand Marais, just south of Grand Beach, and says at one point the lineup of cars waiting to get into the area was nearly a kilometre long.

“I’d like to see them, if the numbers are so bad, close those gates at the park, give everybody the same treatment as we’re getting, stay home. Stay home and we can put an end to this,” he said.

“I can’t understand it, I don’t even know what to say about it. If they let that happen, why are they giving other people fines for having a friend over or something? That really concerns me.”

On Wednesday, the province adjusted its public health orders to help residents during the heat wave.

The changes allowed for the temporary reopening of municipal splash pads, pools and wading pools, as well as those operated by hotels, campgrounds and other private businesses.

Rules that prohibit gathering with people outside your household, whether at splashpads or beaches, still apply.

Some beachgoers were concerned about public health order enforcement at Grand Beach.

Griffin Kissack says he and his girlfriend, who he lives with, are trying to keep their distance from people and have fun while they’re at it. (Marouane Refak/Radio-Canada)

Griffin Kissack spent Saturday at the beach with his girlfriend, who he lives and works with. He says there were too many people at the beach to enforce the orders fully.

“I think it’ll just be a challenge in process to try to come out and enforce the rules on everybody on a day like today,” he said.

Kissack wonders why enforcement officials don’t check people’s IDs as they go into the park to ensure people are spending time with people they live with.

A provincial spokesperson said in an email on Friday that conservation and park patrol officers will enforce public health and state of emergency orders within provincial parks, while attendants, interpreters and beach safety services will provide education and monitor compliance.

Dan Boileau says there are limited options for beating the heat, and he steered clear of others while at the beach. (Marouane Refak/Radio-Canada)

Dan Boileau says he was surprised how many people were at the beach.

“I’d imagine a lot of people are thinking the same way as me and just want to get out to the beach to cool off a little bit,” he said.

Aside from a city-owned splash pad, he says the beach was the best option to cool off for the day. 

Boileau says he tried to keep his distance from everyone and just enjoy the sun with his family.