COVID-19: Charges expected after anti-restriction rallies in Winnipeg, Winkler

The Manitoba government says public health enforcement officers were on-hand at two anti-restriction rallies held in Winnipeg and Winkler over the weekend, and charges are expected.

In a release Monday, the province said officers collected video evidence at both rallies “in support of ticketing for non-compliance with public health orders.”

Read more: Consequences continue for attendees at Winnipeg weekend rally against COVID-19 restrictions

“Officials advise the choice to defy public health orders is a serious offence and violators will be held to account,” the provincial release reads.

“Investigations continue for all events and charges are expected.”

Click to play video: 'Anti-maskers protest at The Forks' Anti-maskers protest at The Forks

Anti-maskers protest at The Forks – Apr 26, 2021

Meanwhile, the province says justice officials continue to investigate a large rally held at The Forks in Winnipeg April 25 that drew hundreds of protesters — most of whom were seen without masks and defying physical-distancing regulations — in opposition to the province’s restrictions.

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So far 20 people have received $1,296 tickets in connection with last month’s rally at The Forks, according to officials. The investigation continues and more charges are expected.

Read more: Manitoba minister says only God has authority to make people wear masks

The province’s release came as more than 100 people were estimated to have attended a rally against COVID-19 restrictions held outside the provincial courts building in Winnipeg Monday.

The latest rally was held in support of a court challenge launched by seven Manitoba churches fighting the province’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 enforcement' COVID-19 enforcement

COVID-19 enforcement

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Calgary-based group representing the churches, has said the restrictions are unjustified violations of charter-protected freedoms.

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Under current health orders, in-person worship services in Manitoba are restricted to 10 people or 25 per cent capacity — whichever is less — and everyone is required to wear a mask.

Read more: Manitoba reports another COVID-19 variant death, 251 new cases

Manitoba health officials announced 251 new COVID-19 cases and one death Monday after four deaths and 554 new cases were reported over the weekend.

Since March 2020, 979 Manitobans with COVID-19 have died and 39,524 people have fallen ill to the virus.

–With files from The Canadian Press

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

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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.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, visit our coronavirus page.

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