‘It’s ridiculous’: Winnipegger says he was fined for not wearing a mask outside

WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg man wants an explanation, after he said he received a $298 fine for not wearing a mask outdoors.

“I ended up with a $300 ticket for standing outside drinking a coffee,” Robert McCaughan told CTV News Wednesday. 

Under the current restrictions, Manitobans must wear masks in indoor public places.

However, there are no rules requiring face coverings outdoors.

“For a person like me who follows all the rules to get dinged with a $300 ticket right before Christmas… It’s ridiculous,” said McCaughan. 

The 23-year-old electrician said he was doing work at a strip mall on Leila Avenue last weekend.

He and a coworker stopped for a coffee break outside when McCaughan said an enforcement officer pulled up.

“Within one minute she comes out of her car telling us we’re in violation of code red restrictions and we’re not wearing masks or within six feet of each other.”

Manitoba’s chief provincial public officer Dr. Brent Roussin was asked about the incident at Wednesday’s COVID-19 update.

“I can’t speak to the details of that situation, I’m not aware of that situation,” said Roussin. “Our mandatory mask requirements in our orders are for indoor public places.”

The requirement came into effect last month, as part of ramped up enforcement efforts by the province to try to control surging COVID-19 cases. 

Last week, 85 tickets were issued totalling more than $122,000 in fines. 

Nearly 500 tickets have been handed out since April, which amount to $683,000 in fines.

With COVID-19 restrictions constantly changing, McCaughan said there has been confusion around the crackdown.

“Either the public is misinformed or the people enforcing these rules are not properly trained.”

A provincial spokesperson said the Manitoba government isn’t able to comment on specific cases.

“Almost 3,300 personnel across various agencies are empowered to enforce public health orders to protect Manitobans, and the province has also partnered with an external security agency to provide additional enforcement. Enforcement officers have been appropriately trained,” said the spokesperson.  

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