OTTAWA -- Ottawa bylaw officers have issued seven tickets over the past three days to people breaking the rules during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services started issuing tickets last weekend to Ottawa residents not following physical distancing rules and businesses remaining opening during the pandemic.

After issuing 43 tickets from Friday to Sunday, only seven tickets have been issued since Monday morning.

In an email to CTV News Ottawa, Director of Bylaw and Regulatory Services Roger Chapman says since April 3, officers have responded to 1,397 calls pertaining to suspected violations of COVID-19 measures.

“So far, 50 tickets have been issued.”

On Monday, Mayor Jim Watson said tickets were issued over the weekend to a barber shop and a pub remaining open, despite the Ontario Government ordering all non-essential businesses to remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One person received two tickets totalling $2,000 for not respecting provincial orders and being verbally aggressive with a bylaw officer.

All Ottawa parks are closed and playground equipment, sports facilities and other amenities in the parks are off limits.

Ottawa bylaw officers have the authority to issue fines under Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.  Bylaw says tickets would be issued for:

  • Gatherings of five or more people in public or private residences
  • People congregating in parks/using park facilities or equipment
  • Restaurants that continue to offer dine-in services
  • Non-essential retail businesses continuing to operate.

The fine for failing to comply with the Ontario Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act is $750. A victim surcharge brings the fine to $880.

During a town hall with the public on Thursday, Emergency and Protective Services General Manager Anthony Di Monte defended the actions of bylaw officers enforcing the rules.

“Bylaw enforcement officers are addressing instances only of flagrant disregard for the rules under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.  We are doing so to protect the public, and we need people to understand that their actions can endanger others.”

Di Monte notes most Ottawa residents are following the rules of physical distancing and staying out of closed municipal parks.