CK warns of stricter enforcement for not following emergency orders

Chatham-Kent Civic Centre. January 18, 2017. (Photo by Natalia Vega)

Chatham-Kent officials are pleased with public cooperation during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, residents should expect stricter enforcement of the emergency orders going forward.

The municipality’s enforcement team has responded to over 600 concerns that were phoned in to the local tip-line that is used to report those who are violating pandemic orders issued under the province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

So far, only one fine has been issued within the municipality.  CAO Don Shropshire told a media briefing Thursday morning the ticket was issued for having a large gathering at a party. A total of 169 warnings were given to people violating those emergency orders in Chatham-Kent, including two residents who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and broke the order to quarantine at home.

“Based on these numbers the majority of citizens are listening,” said Paul Lacina, CK’s director of Building Development Services, in a news release.

The Ontario government recently extended the state of emergency in the province until May 12 and Chatham-Kent officials are reminding the local public to follow the rules that are in place.

“Although we continue to educate, we are past the point where it is acceptable for people to ignore the State of Emergency and the rules that go along with it. Fines will be laid to those in violation,” said Lacina.

Failing to comply with these orders can result in a set fine of $750 while obstructing a provincial offences officer comes with a $1,000 fine.

The emergency orders include the closure of all non-essential workplaces, outdoor amenities such as parks and recreational areas, public places and bars and restaurants, as well as restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and a prohibition against price-gouging.

As of Thursday evening, there have been 25 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent and one death. Eleven people have since recovered from the virus.

Residents of Chatham-Kent concerned that a person or business is violating these orders can call the municipal tip line at 519-360-1998 or email Covid19enforcement@chatham- kent.ca.  Callers are asked to be factual with the information they are providing and, if possible, to provide an address.