Guelph bylaw stepping up COVID-19 enforcement due to crowded stores

The City of Guelph says bylaw officers will be wearing body cameras as part of a one-year pilot project. Matt Carty / Global Guelph

The City of Guelph says its bylaw officers will be increasing enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines at stores and shopping malls amid concerns of overcrowded stores.

Stores in the city can expect increased inspections as the holiday shopping season gets underway.

Business owners are reminded that stores should have hand sanitizer at every entrance, limit the number of customers inside and have measures in place to keep people at least two metres apart, and everyone should be wearing masks.

“As we enter the holiday season, we must remain vigilant,” said Guelph’s medical officer of health, Dr. Nicola Mercer.

“As a community, we want to stay as open as possible, support local businesses and keep all of us safe. To do that, we need to continue to adhere to the public health measures that protect the patrons and staff of our local businesses.”

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The city said its bylaw officers are prepared to issue fines for significant and repeat violations. Those fines under the Emergency Measures Act can range from $750 to $100,000.

Click to play video: 'Rural Ontario asks visitors from COVID-19 hot zones to ‘stay home’'
Rural Ontario asks visitors from COVID-19 hot zones to ‘stay home’

There is also a concern about people coming to Guelph to shop from areas such as Peel or Toronto, which are currently in lockdown.

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“To echo the words of Ontario’s premier and chief medical officer of health, we’re all in this together,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie. “We are trusting people to do the right thing and only travel when it’s necessary.”

The province has said people in higher transmission areas should avoid travel to lower transmission areas.

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The Guelph Chamber of Commerce said it is also encouraging businesses to implement the protocols outlined by public health.

“We encourage Guelphites to shop, eat and support local, whenever they can,” said Shakiba Shayani, chamber president and CEO. “We applaud businesses in Guelph who have pivoted their operations to ensure a safe customer experience, including.”

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