$300 to $5,000 fines for ignoring social distancing

Just a day after Ontario Premier Doug Ford shared stark data showing how many Ontarians could die from COVID-19 in various scenarios, the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville is issuing a “final warning” that people who ignore social distancing rules face fines of $300 to $5,000.

“It is unfortunate that we have to do this, but some people are still not listening,” Stouffville Mayor Iain Lovatt said. “If people feel they are invincible and that they may not be contributing to the spread of COVID-19, they are wrong. This is your final warning, Stouffville.”

Effective immediately, York Regional Police and town bylaw officers will actively enforce an order issued by the provincial government on March 30 that closes all public outdoor recreation amenities and limits the size of public gatherings to no more than five people who are not immediate family.

Fines begin at $300 and range to $5,000 for repeat offenders. “Just this week, we have chased numerous people out of closed parks and (are) getting significant push-back,” Lovatt said. “If we don’t take a stance, this will escalate on us with the weather warming up. We need to stop the spread of the virus through people that may not know they are infected.”

Concerned residents have been contacting the mayor and councilors regarding groups of people ignoring those orders and restrictions. If you see people in town parks or congregating in groups of five or more, call the YRP non-emergency line at 905-881-1221, ext. 7006 or visit yrp.ca/en/Online-Reporting.asp to file a complaint.

The town closed all facilities on March 13 after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and the town declared a state of emergency on March 24 on the advice of the York Regional Medical Officer of Health.

Visit www.townofws.ca/COVID19 and/or www.york.ca/COVID19 for more information.

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