Hamilton’s emergency operations centre (EOC) director says the city received over 200 complaints during the holidays in connection with potential breaches under Ontario’s COVID-19 lockdown measures, which commenced on Boxing Day.
EOC boss Paul Johnson said bylaw officers were called to a number of private residences and establishments between Christmas Eve and this past weekend to follow up on complaints about gatherings that exceeded the province’s limit of 10 people per indoor setting.
“We were called to establishments with small gatherings for people, all of which are not allowed under the grey category we’re in,” Johnson said.
One of the businesses charged was a Tim Hortons in Stoney Creek in which 15 staff members gathered for a non-public function.
“It was overcapacity,” said Johnson.
“There were people not wearing masks and there was not the proper social distancing.”
Johnson went on to warn businesses that being closed to the public doesn’t change the enforcement of regulations.
“Simply closing your doors to the public, does not turn that space into an area where social gatherings can occur,” Johnson said.
Hamilton police say they laid charges in connection with an alleged house party on Primrose Avenue in the central lower city on New Year’s Eve.
Prince William and Kate Middleton booed while attending Boston Celtics game
New COVID variant could emerge amid drop in surveillance, vaccination, WHO warns
Const. Jerome Stewart told Global News that a gathering of about 19 people led to the issuing of provincial offence notices following a disturbance call from a nearby resident around 2:a.m. on Jan. 1.
“There was some kind of function going on there that was not a family function,” Stewart said.
“We believe only three people were residents of the home.”
Brantford police say they also handed out a ticket to a 30-year-old on News Year’s Eve in connection to a large gathering at a house in a residential neighbourhood around 1:30 a.m. on New Year’s Eve.
Johnson said the city laid 32 charges during the holidays related to inadequate use of face coverings and lack of social distancing as well as laying other charges connected to noise and use of city facilities.
“We did have some bylaw charges at Waterdown Memorial park for after-hours use,” Johnson said.
Under the Reopening Ontario Act attendees to a gathering deemed “illegal” by police and bylaw officers can face fines of $880, while an organizer of an overcapacity event could be dinged $10,000.
Since Christmas Eve, 14 businesses have seen charges from bylaw officers with eight receiving multiple charges under section 7.0.2 orders.
Johnson characterized the behaviour of those who hosted indoor gatherings over Christmas and New Year’s as “disturbing.”
“These are not cases where something is just amiss for a couple of seconds or somebody didn’t replace somebody at the door for a couple of minutes,” Johnson said.