London police say three men are facing charges in connection with a large house party on Mill Street, off Richmond Row, that saw roughly 100 attendees on Friday.
An 18-year-old man and two 19-year-old men are jointly charged with participating in an indoor gathering that exceeded 10 people and hosting an indoor gathering that exceeded 10 people, in violation of provincial orders introduced in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
All three are due in court Feb. 8, 2021.
Police say they were called to several noise complaints over the weekend across the city, but only the Mill Street party and a separate gathering in the city’s northeast end appear to have been in violation of the province’s Reopening Ontario Act.
The gathering in the city’s northeast end remains under investigation.
The latest charges come less than a week after two men were charged in connection with a house party on Halloween weekend that drew over 100 people to a residence on Beaufort Street, a small side street off where Wharncliffe Road North becomes Western Road, on Oct. 30.
On Nov. 10, London police confirmed that a 23-year-old man is charged with hosting a nuisance party contrary to a city bylaw, as well as participating in an indoor gathering that exceeded 10 people and hosting an indoor gathering that exceeded 10 people under the Reopening Ontario Act.
A 24-year-old man is charged with participating in an indoor gathering that exceeded 10 people, under the provincial act.
Both have a court date scheduled for Jan. 25, 2021.
“We are currently in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the repeated messages from community partners have been clear – do not host or attend large gatherings; limit in-person interactions; follow health and safety protocols; and find safe ways to connect with each other,” police said in a statement on Monday.
“The maximum number of people permitted to attend a non-business organized public event and/or social gathering is limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.”
Londoners are also encouraged to email concerns about businesses or individuals in the city not following pandemic-related orders at COVIDOrderConcerns@london.ca or call 519-661-4660. The phone line is monitored weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“If concerns arise after 4:30 p.m., London police will assist in relation to investigations and potential charges,” police said.
Mayor Ed Holder was candid on Monday as he expressed his outrage toward large private gatherings in violation of pandemic response measures.
“To say I’m frustrated would be a massive understatement. You know, given that kind of behaviour, we could shut down every single law-abiding business in this region and we’d still run the risk of significant spread, all because some people are unable to control themselves when it comes to large indoor parties,” he said.
“Stupid doesn’t even come close to describing them. You know, it’s infuriating. And I can’t imagine how maddening it must be to our first responders who put themselves in harm’s way when they’re called to these kinds of events. Or think about our health care workers already working under more stressful circumstances than most of us might imagine.”
Speaking to the potential for similar parties in the future, Holder stressed that “if fines are warranted we will not hesitate to act.”
“To the miscreants who take no responsibility for their ignorant and selfish behaviour: get out your chequebooks because we’re coming for you.”
As of Monday morning, the London and Middlesex region has moved from green-prevent to the more restrictive yellow-protect tier of the province’s recently unveiled colour-coded COVID-19 response framework.
The change also comes amid a surge in cases reported in London and Middlesex in recent weeks, with at least 220 cases so far this month.
Across Ontario, new modelling numbers released last Thursday warned that Ontario could hit 2,500 cases per day at three per cent growth and around 6,500 a day at a five per cent growth rate by mid-December, according to government documents.
At that time, health officials said five per cent growth was an “optimistic scenario.”
— with files from Global News’ Matthew Trevithick and Jessica Patton.View link »