Coronavirus: Fines for big gatherings, repeat offenders start Friday, Ottawa mayor warns
Ottawa bylaw officers on Friday will begin fining repeat offenders who hang out in closed parks and who violate a recent provincial order that banned gatherings larger than five people in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, the mayor said.
“This is a serious issue and we’ve been trying to be reasonable and lenient,” Jim Watson said in a teleconference call with reporters.
The emergency order issued by the Ontario government six days ago gave the city’s bylaw department the power to enforce the ban on big groups and non-essential businesses and issue steep fines, starting at $750 for individuals.
Asked about the enforcement strategy throughout this week, municipal officials said bylaw officers were fielding more than 100 calls per day about large gatherings and use of parks but had so far only given out verbal warnings.
One officer gave a total of 70 verbal warnings just at Mooney’s Bay between Wednesday and Thursday, and later installed caution tape around the park’s workout equipment, Watson told reporters.