While the majority of Toronto residents were safe at home (probably suffering from a food coma following too much turkey and stuffing) over the long weekend, bylaw and police officers were out in full force ensuring both members of the public and businesses were complying with public health measures.
Last week, the provincial government announced that new rules would be introduced in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa to help curb the spread the virus, which has been on the rise for weeks now.
These measures include new social gathering and organized public event limits (10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors), prohibiting dine-in service at all food and drink establishments, closing gyms, and more, and they came into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10.
“Over the long weekend, the City of Toronto enforcement team including Bylaw Enforcement, Toronto Public Health and the Toronto Police Service worked to enforce measures to help keep people safe and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” reads a news release from the city.
“Over the weekend, City enforcement teams proactively conducted compliance checks on establishments across the city focusing on heavily populated areas such as Queen Street East, Queen Street West, College Street, King Street West, Yonge Street, Wellington Street, Bloor Street West and Danforth Avenue, and establishments that historically have been non-compliant.”
Over the long weekend, the #CityofTO enforcement team including Bylaw Enforcement, @TOPublicHealth and @TorontoPolice worked to enforce measures to help keep people safe and reduce the spread of #COVID19 in our community. News release: https://t.co/Y7K8nflcVA pic.twitter.com/mmTgbx4gPK
— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) October 13, 2020
The city says Toronto Public Health conducted 46 inspections at businesses including restaurants and bars, shopping malls and hookah establishments over the weekend, and this resulted in the issuance of 16 warning letters and two charges for non-compliance with the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act (ROA).
Bylaw officers and Toronto police also issued four charges to a single restaurant and bar establishment for exceeding the limit of people that can be at one table (six), not ensuring physical distancing, not ensuring customers are seated, and exceeding venue capacity.
The name of the establishment that received the fines has not been released.
The city, meanwhile, says they also received 30 complaints related to large gatherings ranging from more than ten people to upwards of 60.
Officers issued 11 warning letters and two charges related to these complaints.
Fines for violating the provincial act range from $750 to $100,000, including up to one year in jail, and $10,000,000 for a corporation — so those who were charged over Thanksgiving weekend in Toronto certainly won’t be getting off easy.
Toronto has also been dealing with the issue of illegal bonfires since COVID-19 first started, and the city syas more than 80 bonfires were extinguished around the Etobicoke waterfront parks with eight tickets were issued.
“Bonfires are becoming an increasing cause for concern and enforcement of this bylaw, which comes with a $300 fine, will continue,” notes the release.
The city is reminding all residents that complaints about gatherings and other COVID-19-related orders should be submitted via 311, and that all complaints must be investigated and confirmed by an enforcement officer before a charge can be laid.
“All people in Toronto should adopt steps for self-protection. Individuals should only consider leaving their homes for essential activities such as work, education and fitness,” reads the release.
“As much as possible, residents are asked to limit contact with people not in the same household, keep at least six feet apart from people not in the same household and wear a mask when outside of their homes, especially in indoor settings and when physical distancing is difficult. Residents should wash hands frequently and remain at home when ill.”