Fines will be mailed out to attendees of Steinbach anti-mask rally, says Manitoba premier

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says fines will be sent by mail to people who took part in what he describes as the “stupidity” of an anti-mask rally on the weekend.

Pallister says more details are to come after well over 100 people attended the protest in Steinbach against restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Read more: Anti-mask rally in Steinbach sees hundreds of attendees

But he hints tickets could be based on the licence plates of vehicles seen at the rally southeast of Winnipeg on Saturday.

“On the surface of it, when you see that many people out doing something wrong, you want to see the tickets issued there and then,” he said at a Monday press conference announcing supports for businesses forced to close during the pandemic.

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Click to play video 'Steinbach mayor pushes back against anti-mask rally' Steinbach mayor pushes back against anti-mask rally

Steinbach mayor pushes back against anti-mask rally

“It was a pretty dangerous situation and unfortunately there were threats and some things that people said if they thought about it and prayed on it, they would be very regretful.”

The Hugs over Masks group organized the Steinbach event to protest the provincial government’s public health orders meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. This Thursday, the entire province went into level red under Manitoba’s pandemic rating system.

Read more: ‘This is not the heart of Steinbach’: Mayor rails against out-of-town anti-mask rally organizers

All gatherings are capped at five people among other significant measures.

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A Global News reporter at the event saw children and adults at the rally, the majority of whom didn’t wear masks or follow physical distancing protocols. Others held signs touting conspiracy theories.

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Click to play video 'Steinbach hospital overflowing as COVID cases rise' Steinbach hospital overflowing as COVID cases rise

Steinbach hospital overflowing as COVID cases rise

Over the weekend a provincial spokesperson confirmed fines were doled out for contravening public health orders, but couldn’t say the number of tickets given.

The rally was held as Steinbach’s hospital was near capacity and Manitoba’s COVID-19 numbers continue to rise.

Read more: Manitoba reports 10 additional coronavirus deaths, 392 new cases Monday

On Sunday, Manitoba’s justice minister condemned the actions of the demonstrators calling actions at the event “incredibly unfortunate, dangerous and wrong.”

“The language and vitriol experienced by our enforcement personnel at (Saturday’s) event is absolutely unacceptable. These individuals are working to keep all Manitobans healthy and safe so we can slow the spread of this virus and save lives,” Cliff Cullen said in the statement.

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Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Manitoba’s top doctor implores people to stay home amid COVID-19 case surge' Coronavirus: Manitoba’s top doctor implores people to stay home amid COVID-19 case surge

Coronavirus: Manitoba’s top doctor implores people to stay home amid COVID-19 case surge

“Manitobans have been warned and, if they choose to participate in events that openly disregard public health orders, they can expect that enforcement action will be taken.”

Provincial fines for individuals breaking COVID-19 health orders are set at $1,296, while fines for businesses are up to $5,000.

Read more: Situation at Steinbach hospital dire as capacity dwindles: Manitoba Nurses Union

On Monday Manitoba health officials announced 392 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths.

The latest cases bring the province’s total number of cases reported since March to 11,339. The province’s death toll is now at 172.

–With files from The Canadian Press and Global’s Sam Thompson, Amber McGuckin, and Erik Pindera

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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