Mayor urges Ottawa residents to report large gatherings as Ontario limits size of social activities
OTTAWA -- As Ontario scales back the size of parties and gatherings in Ottawa, Mayor Jim Watson is urging residents to report large gatherings to the city's 311 line.
Starting Friday, social gathering limits in Ottawa, Toronto and Peel Region are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors. The new rules apply to social gatherings at homes and organized public events held on private property or in parks.
Speaking on CTV Morning Live Friday morning, Mayor Jim Watson said he supported Premier Doug Ford's move to roll back social gathering limits to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
"The reality is the bulk of these cases that are being transmitted are coming from these private parties, from large weddings gatherings, barbecues, keg parties and so on."
Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services will continue to enforce the social gathering limits. The city announced before the Labour Day weekend that Ottawa Bylaw and Ottawa Police would be monitoring social gatherings, especially around university and college campuses.
Premier Ford announced on Thursday the fine for anyone who organizes a private gathering that exceeds the limits is a minimum of $10,000. Anyone caught violating the COVID-19 rules at a gathering faces a $750 fine.
Mayor Watson told CTV Morning Live that people should call 311 if they see big gatherings.
"I don't think there's an alternative. People say it's a snitch line, but you know you're calling because you want to protect your child's safety and your safety and your health," said Watson.
"So, if you have a neighbour who's being irresponsible on one side of you and the neighbour on the other side following all the rules, that neighbour is putting you and your family at risk. We need to sort of nip this in the bud because it's dangerous for people's health."
The new rules on social gathering limits don't apply to events and gatherings held in "staffed businesses" or facilities, including restaurants, movie theatres, banquet halls, convention centres and gyms.
"The restaurants, bars and gyms have actually been good players. I'm sure at some point there will be a case where it can be traced back to a restaurant, bar," said Watson.
"But that's why we're telling our Bylaw folks – they're going in, and if the waiter is not wearing a mask, if they're not asking for contact information – no more warnings, you'll be fined and the ticket is pretty steep."
CTV Morning Live host Leslie Roberts asked the Mayor Watson about a proposal in British Columbia to limit social gatherings to a maximum of six people.
"I suppose you can go to the ultimate, and say why not have anyone over. You gotta be reasonable, and I think 10 is a reasonable number," said Watson.
"In a house, you can spread out and respect physical distancing quite easily with 10 people. With the outdoor number going down to 25, people generally have a fairly good size big back yard you can socially distance."
The mayor says Ottawa Police will be supporting bylaw when dealing with larger gatherings.
"At the end of the day, we don't want to go and ticket people, but we've been very patient and kind. We're one of three hot spots."