A 20-year-old Toronto, Ont., woman is facing charges under the Reopening Ontario Act after London police say they broke up a large indoor gathering over the weekend near Richmond Row, just a stone’s throw from where police broke up a massive house party a week earlier.
It’s the third time this month that police have announced charges under the act as a result of large indoor gatherings that have been found to be in violation of restrictions enacted amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Officers responded to the scene in the 100-block of Ann Street, located east of Talbot Street, around 9:45 p.m. Saturday following a noise complaint, and located a house party with approximately 15 people in attendance, none of whom appeared to be wearing masks, police said.
As officers spoke with the host of the gathering, police say some party goers promptly left through the rear of the building.
The accused, identified only as a Toronto woman, 20, is facing charges of hosting an indoor gathering which exceeded 10 people, and participating in an indoor gathering which exceeded 10 people. She is expected to appear in court Jan. 4, police said.
A separate large gathering that also took place over the weekend in the city’s north end remains under investigation, police said. No other details about that incident have been provided.
Under provincial rules, gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
These new charges come a week after police announced counts against three people in connection with a massive party on Mill Street, located just a stone’s throw from Ann Street, that saw some 100 people in attendance.
In that incident, which occurred Nov. 14, an 18-year-old man and two 19-year-old men were jointly charged with participating in an indoor gathering that exceeded 10 people and hosting an indoor gathering that exceeded 10 people.
A separate gathering which occurred that same weekend in the city’s northeast end remains under investigation as of Monday, according to police.
Prior to that, a massive house party on Beaufort Street near Western University on Oct. 30 led to charges against two men, aged 23 and 24. More than 100 people attended the party.
In a statement, the city’s police chief said officers continue to deal with large gatherings during the pandemic despite repeated pleas and messages from local city and health officials, and the police service.
“It’s not only disappointing to hear that this type of blatant disregard for public safety continues, but the individuals hosting and attending these gatherings are putting our first responders at risk with each and every interaction,” Chief Steve Williams said in a statement.
Williams’ tone of frustration is similar to that expressed a week ago by Mayor Ed Holder in the wake of the Mill Street party.
“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,” Holder said during the Nov. 16 media briefing.
“To the miscreants who take no responsibility for their ignorant and selfish behaviour: get out your chequebooks because we’re coming for you.”
According to health unit figures, 66 per cent of the 331 coronavirus cases reported so far this month have involved people under the age of 40. Looking just at those under 30, the figure is 52 per cent.
At least 73 cases have involved people 19 or younger, while 101 have involved people in their 20s and 45 people in their 30s.
People in their 20s, in particular, have accounted for the largest percentage of cases by age during the pandemic with 380, or about a quarter of the region’s caseload. People 19 and under are the second-largest age group, accounting for 219 cases.
While the cohort is considered lower-risk in comparison to older age groups, the potential long-term health consequences of the coronavirus are still less understood.
Some patients who recover from COVID-19 have been found with lingering lung, heart or other organ damage.
A report released in July through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found 35 per cent of survey respondents who received a positive coronavirus test result and were symptomatic hadn’t returned to their usual state of health when interviewed two to three weeks after getting tested.
Among those in the age group of 18 to 34 with no chronic medical conditions, one in five hadn’t returned to their regular state of health.
— With files from Daina Goldfinger, Jacquelyn LeBel, Jasmine Pazzano of Global NewsView link »