Police in London, Ont., say residents appear to have taken COVID-19 precautions to heart as they celebrated another St. Patrick’s Day amid the pandemic.
In an update issued on Thursday, police indicated that most Londoners stayed within health guidelines as they took part in the annual celebration.
“London police and City of London By-Law officers were encouraged by a slow start to this year’s St. Patrick’s Day,” said police in an update.
“As the day progressed, and into the evening, there were a number of noise-related calls and complaints about small house parties throughout the city.”
Police said while lineups had formed outside of downtown pubs around mid-morning on Wednesday, they dissipated once the businesses started opening up.
Jack’s general manager Adam Campbell told Global News on Wednesday that the downtown bar had customers lined up outside more than two hours before opening time.
He added that once staff arrived, they were able to spread out the line and bring people inside, leading to no lineup issues after.
Activity was noted on patios, along with an increase in foot traffic downtown throughout the day, but police say pubs and restaurants stayed within capacity limits and no charges were laid on businesses.
As for COVID-19 violations, police say investigations are ongoing into potential offences under the Reopening Ontario Act, the act responsible for restrictions related to social gatherings. Police say they’ll provide more information on these potential offences once it’s available.
“Our response was primarily to noise complaints, with Londoners remaining within the provincial guidelines when it came to gathering limits,” said chief of police Steve Williams.
Dr. Chris Mackie, the medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit, described St. Patrick’s Day as a “very, very mild Wednesday evening,” adding that health officials did not observe “an enormous amount of problematic activity.”
“I understand and empathize with those who had noise issues in their neighbourhoods, but we’d much rather that people are partying loud than people are partying in large groups,” Mackie said.
“From a COVID perspective: Pretty happy.”
Deputy Mayor Josh Morgan also praised Londoners who followed the rules, but noted that it will be some time before officials can view the full picture.
“Ultimately, that’s what really matters here, (COVID-19) case counts, and by that measure, we won’t really know whether St. Patrick’s Day was a success or a potential tipping point for another seven to 10 days when potential infections might become apparent,” Morgan said.
STATS FROM POLICE:
- Officers responded to a total of 48 complaints related to noise, parties or gatherings
- A number of warnings were issued in relation to the Liquor Licence Act and by-law infractions
- Two charges were issued under the Liquor Licence Act
- 26 businesses were inspected and found to be compliant with restrictions
- Six people were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.