brampton diwali

Police bust Brampton gathering after hundreds of people show up

In the peak of the pandemic's first wave, Brampton quickly became a hot spot for not only COVID-19, but for illegal parties that defied provincial gathering restrictions and regularly saw turnouts in the hundreds.

The city and the entire Peel Region has, along with Toronto, remained one of the worst in the province for infection numbers, prompting local health officials to prohibit indoor wedding receptions and other large gatherings, recommend that people only hang out with those living in their household, and call for a ban on all private get togethers in general.

With the South Asian and Hindu holiday of Diwali taking place on Saturday, Brampton's mayor warned residents of the Toronto-area town that bylaw officers were going to be out ticketing people congregating to celebrate and ensuring that there were "no large gatherings" — but still, people gathered.

Take, for example, one event in the area of McLaughlin Road South and Highway 407 that started as a socially distant drive-thru method for worshippers to honour the holiday, and ended as a group of hundreds in a temple parking lot, even spilling over onto neighbouring properties as people arrived on foot.

According to local police, more than a whopping 700 people were present during a time when social situations have long been limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors provincewide.

A second Diwali celebration in neighbouring Mississauga was busted the same night with around the same number of people.

Locals took to social media to express their disappointment in their community for so brashly defying health and safety rules in such a dangerous time, when COVID numbers in Ontario continue to hit record highs.

Others have commented on the fact that the city and the Peel Regional Police seem to have approached the warning and enforcement of gathering rules differently for Diwali and holidays such as Thanksgiving, raising some very pertinent questions:

Peel was moved into the Red-Restrict level of the province's new colour-coded reopening framework at 12:01 a.m. Monday — a framework that Premier Doug Ford and his team already had to amend and make stricter — meaning that things that are still not allowed in Toronto, such as indoor dining and fitness classes, are permitted with a stringent cap of 10 people indoors.

It remains to be seen if the region's health panel will do as Toronto Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa did and impose additional further measures on these settings to curb the spread of the virus.

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