'Flagrant disregard for public health': 12 COVID-19 enforcement actions issued in Waterloo Region this week
WATERLOO -- Region of Waterloo officials issued 12 enforcement actions for failing to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, including multiple tickets for private gatherings, staff said a weekly COVID-19 update.
Between May 6 and 12, 11 charges were issued, along with one from a previous reporting period.
"It's disappointing to see some people at large gatherings that have occurred with flagrant disregard for public health measures," Region of Waterloo Chair Karen Redman said at a weekly COVID-19 update.
Most of the charges stem from private gatherings – including two issued for gatherings at Victoria Park in Kitchener.
Waterloo regional police doled out tickets to two individuals at a gathering at Victoria Park. Those tickets carry a fine of $880.
A total of five people were ticketed and fined $880 related to gatherings at private residences; two in Kitchener and three in Waterloo.
City of Waterloo bylaw officers issued two tickets related to a demonstration this past Sunday.
Grand River Transit issued two tickets, each with a $240 fine, for failing to wear a mask.
Region of Waterloo bylaw officials issued one ticket to BRLM Sports Group/FC Berlin for an individual failing to wear a mask. That ticket also comes with a $240 fine.
The latest enforcement update comes among rising reports of large crowds flocking to area greenspaces, including Victoria Park.
"Obviously, with the weather improving everyone wants to get outside," the Region of Waterloo's chief administrator, Bruce Lauckner, said at the virtual update. "It's when people start to congregate, it's when people are in close proximity without masks … that problems start to occur."
With the May long weekend around the corner, the region's top doctor is urging residents to continue to follow public health guidelines and the provincial stay-at-home order, which was extended until June 2.
"We've come so far. We're in a good position," medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said at the briefing. "Let's hang on, let's keep going. We can get there together."
Part of the stay-at-home order includes no in-person dining at restaurants like Old Marina on Puslinch Lake, which has had its doors closed for the past six weeks to both indoor and outdoor dining.
"It's tough mentally to see a restaurant that's empty day in and day out over and over again, that wears on your mindset" said owner Joel Cook. "It's very important that restaurants can open soon."
He adds that it's not just about staying above water until they reopen, but taking steps to be ready for the day when they do.
"We are getting as many tables as we can," said Cook. "We figure we won't be able to sit inside because of everything going on, so we have added 21 more tables outside, which is fully licenced, dog friendly, under the lights, and we are ready to go.
"I think a lot of people are getting hopeful now that they are getting the vaccine, the light is kind of at the end of the tunnel, hopefully."