Winnipeg mayor urges Manitoba government to make masks mandatory

The rise of COVID-19 cases in Winnipeg has the city’s mayor calling on the provincial government to make masks mandatory across Manitoba.

Mayor Brian Bowman has consistently deferred to the advice of provincial public health officials, but for the first time on Tuesday he stepped forward and said he wants the province to mandate mask use as Winnipeg’s case totals mount. 

“I do hope the province is considering a mandatory mask requirement province-wide,” Bowman told Information Radio host Marcy Markusa. “I think the numbers really are concerning right now.”

Three-quarters of Manitoba’s nearly 400 active cases are in Winnipeg, and two more deaths announced Monday bring the provincial total to 18.

The City of Winnipeg mandated mask use in public municipal buildings and on Winnipeg Transit buses on Aug. 29.

In the past when asked about mandating mask use across the city or province, Bowman has deferred to Health Minister Cameron Friesen, Premier Brian Pallister and health officials such as Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin.

Bowman said he has “no doubt” those officials are considering a mandatory mask use right now.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew also repeated calls to roll out a mask mandate on Monday.

Bowman said that seeing public figures such as Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler call on the premier over the weekend to make masks mandatory shows people are accepting the idea.

“I see a number of folks weighing in on our captain of the Winnipeg Jets on the weekend who I got a lot of time for, and I agree it’s it’s something that I hope the province is considering.”

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