KINGSTON -- Kingston is threatening to issue $2,000 fines to people gathering in large groups on sidewalks, streets and boulevards in the city's downtown core during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Bryan Paterson has issued a new emergency order requiring physical distancing on sidewalks and streets to discourage congregating and loitering in the downtown area. Under the order, individuals in designated areas cannot gather or loiter in groups of more than 10 people.

Exemptions apply to members of the same household and situations where physical distancing cannot be maintained for health and safety reasons.

"To be clear, we're targeting something specific here. One of things we have seen, an area of concern that's certainly come from our police and our public health officials, is large crowds congregating outside some of the bars in the city's downtown," said Mayor Paterson during an interview with CTV News at Five.

"This order is primarily directed at that."

Paterson says the new rule requiring physical distancing on sidewalks and streets will not target people walking down the sidewalk and passing people while you are shopping or out for a walk.

"This is really to try to target the issue of large crowds in those areas (outside bars) because we know that's certainly a higher risk for COVID transmission."

The order is restricting groups to be no larger than 10 people in specific areas of the city.


The City of Kingston says failure to abide by an emergency order can result in a $2,000 fine.

Paterson tells CTV News Ottawa city officials want to target the behaviour of post-secondary students to limit the spread of COVID-19.

"Targeting the big crowds in and around some of the city's bars in the downtown. That really is in the issue we haven't been able to hit yet," said Paterson.

"We've been rolling out a number of other initiatives and enforcement tools to deal with house parties or other large unsanctioned gatherings."

Kingston has increased the fines for people hosting "nuisance parties" in violation on public health protocols from $500 to $2,000.

Earlier this week, Queen's University announced harsh penalties would be handed out to students caught breaking the COVID-19 measures on gatherings.

Meantime, face masks are now mandatory in all indoor public spaces of multi-unit residential buildings.

Mayor Paterson announced masks must be worn in all enclosed common areas of buildings, and building owners are required to place appropriate signage at all entrances to the building.

On June 27, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore announced face masks would be mandatory in all indoor public spaces, including malls and stores.

"Based on recommendations from the medical officer of health, and after consultation with Kingston Police, it’s clear that additional measures are needed to better address the risk of COVID-19 spread in the community," says Mayor Paterson.

"At a time when COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the country and the province, we need to do everything we can and utilize every tool we have available to ensure the safety of our community."