By: Surjit Singh Flora
Is a social gathering or large crowd worth a $100,000 fine? Residents violating new physical distancing by-laws announced in Brampton this week will ask that very same question. The city announced Tuesday that it has signed an Emergency Measure By-law that prohibits individuals standing less than two metres away from one another on public property (besides people they live with), along with additional restrictions prohibiting residents from using park playgrounds, leashfree dog areas, outdoor sports facilities, parking lots and more.
“The city will continue to enact any measures necessary to keep our community safe,” Brown said. Those who break the by-law can be fined anywhere from $500 – $100,000, depending on the offence and frequency. The by-law also prohibits businesses from seating guests having them stand less than two metres apart (besides people they live with). The announcement follows a previous directive by the province to shut non-essential businesses, regulate physical distancing regulations through the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, and ban gatherings of five or more people.
The move came after a large portion of the community agreed that stricter measures needed to be taken to contain the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, city officials said. “The health and safety of our residents is always a priority at the (city), but especially now. We must all understand the seriousness of COVID-19 and work together to minimize its spread,” said Mayor Patrick Brown, after a telephone town hall meeting indicated that 76 per cent of callers supported enforcing fines for residents who refuse to respect physical distancing measures in the community. More than 15,000 participants took part in the town hall, which was hosted last week and included updates from city providers and organizations.
If residents wish to report a non-compliant business, the use of City-owned facilities that are closed (other than essential services) or gatherings of more than five people, they are asked to call 311. A by-law enforcement officer and/or security personnel will investigate the complaint to ensure compliance and may lay charges when appropriate. If residents wish to report a non-compliant food establishment such as a bar or restaurant, they are to report to Peel Public Health at (905) 799-7700.