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Coronavirus: Crowds of more than five now on notice in Hamilton

The health unit says two more patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries in the area to 54.
The health unit says two more patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries in the area to 54. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-CDC via AP, File Leave A Comment

The City of Hamilton has new enforcement powers after the province issued an emergency order banning social gatherings of more than five people.

Municipal bylaw officers, along with Hamilton Police, can now break up crowds of more than five and even have the ability to hand out fines of up to $750 per individual.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Toronto issuing fines up to $5K for people using prohibited amenities at parks

Paul Johnson, Hamilton’s emergency operations director, says the crackdown means the “persuasive approach” didn’t work to the degree needed to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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Johnson adds that while the “vast majority” are taking this virus seriously, he was “dishearted” to hear about “tons of kids” playing in a suburban skate park over the weekend.

Johnson hopes we never get to the point of handing out tickets and making arrests, but he’s pleased that the city now has added “authority to go out and educate and be very clear with people.”

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He says “you can still walk through a park” as long as you keep the right distance, but all leash-free dog parks and “communal or shared outdoor public or private recreational amenities” are now closed within the City of Hamilton.

The provincial government, based on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, issued a new emergency order on Saturday under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. It prohibits organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people,