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Orangeville to fine residents who disobey social distancing protocols

May 1, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

Local residents now run the risk of receiving a hefty fine if they are caught violating a variety of social distancing protocols outlined by Orangeville Council. 

During a virtual meeting of Council on Monday (April 20), the municipality’s elected officials bulked up its bylaws, introducing new COVID-19 emergency measures legislation to encourage local residents to stay home, except for essential outings, to help stop the community spread of the deadly virus. Individuals found to be in breach of the new bylaw can be fined between $500 and $100,000 for each offence. 

The new bylaw prohibits a person from being within two metres of another person in a public place, unless the individuals reside in the same home. It also prohibits a person from being seated, or standing within two metres of another person inside or outside a business, unless the individuals reside at the same premise or are employees of the business. The bylaw also prohibits the use of all outdoor recreational amenities.

“Right now, there are recommendations from the provincial government for social distancing, but there are no fines attached. Many municipalities across Ontario have brought in bylaws so that their police officers and bylaw enforcement officers can enforce fines – this is exactly what we’re doing here,” said Orangeville CAO Ed Brennan. 

Mayor Sandy Brown noted that, while there has been positive news in recent days regarding the slowdown in new COVID-19 cases in Dufferin County, it was important that people adhered to recommendations outlined by both the federal and provincial governments, as well as health care professionals around the world, to practise safe social distancing and stay home whenever possible. 

As of noon Wednesday, there have been 76 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Dufferin County, with five fatalities, according to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. In total 23 of those cases are considered resolved, with 39 individuals currently self-isolating and four in the hospital. 

Although the health unit has refused to identify the five victims, it is known that three were residents of the Shelburne Residence nursing home and one was a resident of Dufferin Oaks.

Globally, there are more than 2.5 million cases of coronavirus, with 180,000 deaths recorded across 170 countries. Here in Canada, 38,932 individuals have tested positive for the virus as of press time, with 1,871 deaths recorded. 

Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh said he was “amazed” by the number of people he saw out in public when he left his home for a rare foray to a local grocery store on Monday. 

“I see so many people out there driving around. Today was particularly bad. I went to get my groceries online and I couldn’t believe the amount of traffic out there. Some people, unfortunately, still aren’t getting it,” Mr. Macintosh said. “Now we’ve got some teeth in the bylaw, we can do something about it.”

Although snow on Wednesday (April 22) appeared to make a mockery of this suggestion, Coun. Lisa Post suggested the looming change in the weather, with temperatures expected to reach double digits in Orangeville over the weekend, was a particular cause for concern.

“This is the time our municipality needs to step up. With the weather changing and people wanting to get outside, I think it’s so important that we continue to reinforce the message of social distancing,” Coun. Post said.

To that point, Mayor Brown referenced an incident that occurred in Brampton last weekend, where a collection of individuals were issued tickets after engaging in a soccer game at a local field. 

“Everybody who played in that game was given a fine. That’s the same kind of thing we want to send a message about. Things like that are not permitted until such a time as public health officials give us the green light,” Mayor Brown said. “I’m glad we’re passing a bylaw to give those powers to people to act on these issues in our town.”

Complaints regarding non-compliance to the above social distancing laws should be directed to Orangeville Police Service at 519-941-2522.



         

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