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‘Well-meaning, but mistaken’: Manitoba premier criticizes relaxed holiday gathering plan on Peguis First Nation

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s premier is condemning the plan of a First Nations community in the province to relax gathering restrictions over the holiday season, saying it will endanger people in the community.

This week, Peguis First Nation announced plans to relax the rules over the holiday season, saying it will allow students and extended family to enter on its ‘Holiday Relaxed Days’ of Dec. 23 to 28, and Dec. 31 to Jan. 1.

During the ‘Holiday Relaxed’ period, there will be a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m. Travelling within the community is prohibited and all visitors must pre-register and be screened for COVID-19.

Peguis is under federal jurisdiction and can set its own COVID-19 restrictions.

During a media availability on Tuesday, Premier Brian Pallister shared his disagreement with the decision by Chief Glenn Hudson to relax the rules.

“This is well-meaning, but mistaken,” Pallister said. “This will endanger people in his community, over half of whom live elsewhere.”

Pallister said those who travel back to the community could bring COVID-19 with them, or take it back with them to their communities, and said when people travel, they expose themselves and those around them to greater risks.

He said the public health orders must be followed by everyone, no matter where they are in Manitoba, and there shouldn’t be two sets of rules.

“I know that Chief Hudson is a good man and a well-meaning person, but this is a massive mistake on his part, and it’s a massive mistake on the part of the Federal Minister to stand down on an issue like this when provincial public health orders are laws of general application that apply to everyone in our province, they don’t apply just off reserves.” Pallister said. “I’ve written the Prime Minister on this (situation) this morning. I expect him to step up and make sure this correction is made and made immediately.”

On Monday, Hudson told CTV News that people will only be allowed to enter the community under certain conditions, and said it’s not an “open invitation clause.”

In Peguis, there are checkpoints in and out of the community, and members can only leave home two days a week to pick up essential items.

-With files from CTV’s Touria Izri and Kayla Rosen.

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