Officers laid 16 charges against non-essential businesses in Toronto this weekend
COVID-19 enforcement teams made up of police, bylaw and public health officers were out in full force this weekend to ensure businesses and individuals were complying with measures required in the lockdown stage of the province's framework.
And while General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management and Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said the vast majority of businesses inspected were found to be operating in compliance with the rules, several charges were also laid against establishments that were not.
"The enforcement of public health-related regulations has been a top priority for the City of Toronto since the outset of COVID-19," said Pegg during the city's pandemic press briefing Monday afternoon.
"Our coordinated COVID-19 enforcement team, including Toronto police, municipal bylaw enforcement officers and Toronto Public Health enforcement officers, have been working tirelessly for the past nine months enforcing the regulations relating to COVID-19," he continued.
"This includes proactive inspections, responding to complaints, educating the public when necessary, issuing tickets, and laying charges against those businesses and individuals found to be in violation of the law."
Pegg said teams proactively inspected 130 bars and restaurants this past weekend, and only two were found to be in violation of provincial orders (98.5 per cent compliance rate) and required action by officers.
But officers also responded to a number of complaints made in connection with non-essential businesses, and Pegg said a total of 16 charges were laid in response to these complaints.
He added that the charges were issued to several different types of non-essential businesses, including hair salons, restaurants and furniture stores.
Enforcement teams also inspected several malls this past weekend, and Pegg said each one was found to be in compliance despite Black Friday sales and holiday shopping.
And it seems the storage unit partiers decided to take some time off this past weekend, as only one charge was laid in response to illegal gatherings.
Officers also continued to patrol Toronto parks and beaches this past weekend, resulting in 15 illegal bonfires extinguished on the waterfront, two of which were left unattended and one that required response by Toronto Fire Services.
Overall, Pegg said non-compliance was found to be "relatively low" this weekend, which he referred to as "good news" for Toronto's fight against COVID-19.
"I want to thank the vast majority of residents and businesses who continue to do the right thing to help stop the spread of COVID-19," he said, "to save lives, prevent the transmission of COVID-19, and prevent the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed."
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