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Coronavirus: Hamilton says only one business broke COVID-19 rules last week

Hamilton's EOC Director Paul Johnson addresses the media during a daily update session at city hall on March 13, 2020. Don Mitchell / Global News

The director of Hamilton’s emergency operation centre said it was great to see that only one business, a hair salon, violated the province’s COVID-19 lockdown orders this past week.

“I’m really excited to see that we had very few of those,” Paul Johnson said during the city’s pandemic update on Monday.

“I know a lot of things are closed, and so that might have helped the numbers a little bit. But even so, it’s nice to see that businesses are complying as much as they possibly can.”

Read more: 13 ‘Hugs Over Masks’ protestors charged after another demonstration at Hamilton city hall

The city’s bylaw enforcement unit brought down the hammer on a King Street East hair salon for opening while it was on the province’s non-essential business list.

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“That was a business that was supposed to be closed, that had opened and was also charged with some other offences in terms of mask-wearing and not maintaining physical distancing,” Johnson said.

The two violations were considerably low compared to previous weeks, in which there have been as many as 24 violations in a seven-day period.

The EOC director said the city did have to lay a number of charges against individuals, including 16 violations for a number of anti-mask protestors at city hall on Sunday and some private residences.

“As we’ve reported often, they are oftentimes the source of where some of the transmission of this virus has taken place,” Johnson said.

Click to play video: 'Inspectors and police prepare for weekend inspection blitz at big box stores in Toronto, Peel, York, Hamilton and Durham' Inspectors and police prepare for weekend inspection blitz at big box stores in Toronto, Peel, York, Hamilton and Durham
Inspectors and police prepare for weekend inspection blitz at big box stores in Toronto, Peel, York, Hamilton and Durham – Jan 15, 2021

 

 

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To date, Hamilton has issued 172 charges under the Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) with violations for the use of prohibited amenities making up the bulk of the infractions with 114.

Other charges include 120 under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) and 171 in administrative penalties for failing to physical distance and comply with face-covering bylaws.

Hamilton bylaw officers did help in a province-wide big box store blitz on the weekend, when a number of COVID-19 prevention protocols were violated across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas.

Read more: Ontario to expand big-box retail blitz amid widespread rule violations, labour minister says

The province’s labour minister, Monte McNaughton, told Global News that enforcement officers made their way into 39 Hamilton big box stores and did 230 inspections overall in the GTA, with 72 per cent of the stores in compliance with the province’s COVID-19 reopening protocols.

“The three biggest issues we found during this inspection blitz — we saw that the big box stores, some of them weren’t complying with the prescreening measures to check symptoms of customers and staff going into stores,” McNaughton said.

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“There were issues with masking and people not following the masking protocols, as well as some issues with physical distancing.”

The province will be expanding inspections beyond box stores, with inspectors making their way into distribution centres, manufacturing facilities, agrifood businesses and others over the 28-day lockdown period.

Hamilton’s EOC director is a supporter of the blitz and says it’s expected that businesses take the responsibility of delivering essential services “seriously.”

It’s a “privilege” for those businesses that are able to remain open, Johnson said.

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