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Media Release: Local enforcement activities aim to keep community as safe as possible throughout reopening

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/Oct. 8, 2021

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is continuing work to ensure that the community remains as safe as possible during the pandemic. These efforts include ongoing inspection and enforcement of local businesses and other public establishments. HPEPH works collaboratively with enforcement agencies, including municipal bylaw services, police, Ministry of Labour Skills Development and Training, Alcohol and Gaming Commission, and the Ministry of the Attorney General, to ensure everyone is doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and adhering to public health rules under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act.

“The vast majority of the businesses in our community have been diligent in following COVID-19 requirements to protect the health and safety of their customers and workers and I want to thank them for their ongoing efforts,” said Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “We are continuing to educate and support local businesses to ensure they can operate as safely as possible and their efforts have helped to protect our community from COVID-19. Everyone has a role to play and we must continue to work together as a community to mitigate the risks and impact of COVID-19.”

HPEPH received 1,186 COVID-19 related enforcement complaints in 2020, and to date, 1,745 have been received in 2021. HPEPH Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) and Tobacco Enforcement Officers respond to complaints using a progressive enforcement approach. As COVID-19 regulations continue to evolve, HPEPH understands that additional support may be needed as businesses adjust to changes. With this in mind, the progressive enforcement approach involves first educating businesses on current public health regulations and requirements, then issuing warnings and laying charges when there is ongoing non-compliance. Once charges are laid, HPEPH works with the relevant enforcement agencies, such as the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and the Ministry of the Attorney General to achieve compliance.

Since March 2020, ongoing enforcement activities have resulted in 47 COVID-19 related charges being laid under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA) and the Reopening Ontario Act. HPEPH does not release the names of businesses or individuals that have been charged unless they are convicted, and this information is then publicly reported yearly through the Board of Health.           

COVID-10 related charges that have been issued since March 2020 include the following:

Under the Health Protection and Promotion Act:

  • Five charges for failure to self-isolate under section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act – $880 per ticket
  • One obstruction charge under the HPPA – Part III summons still before the courts

Under the Reopening Ontario Act:

  • Two charges for failure to check vaccine passports at a restaurant – $880 ticket
  • One charge for failure to wear eye protection while providing a service within two metres of an unmasked patron (restaurant location) – $1,130 ticket for a corporation
  • Two charges for failure to screen employees at a drug store – $1,130 per ticket for a corporation
  • Four charges for operating a non-essential business during lockdown/shutdown – $880 per ticket
  • Two charges for entering a closed recreational amenity – $880 per ticket
  • Three charges for failure to provide name, date of birth and address to an officer- $880 per ticket
  • 27 charges for failure to implement general compliance measures (not distancing, not masking, no safety plan, no capacity limit sign, not screening staff, not screening patrons) – $1,130 ticket for a corporation (24 issued), $880 ticket for a sole proprietor (three issued)

Proof of Vaccination Warnings Issued

Since the provincial requirement to provide proof of vaccination in select settings came into effect on September 22, HPEPH has responded to complaints from the public and has issued four warnings to restaurants and bars under the Reopening Ontario Act.

Businesses that do not comply with proof of vaccination requirements will be educated, warned and charged according to the above-mentioned progressive approach. Premises that continue to violate the COVID-19 regulations, including the proof of vaccination requirements, will be referred to ACGO and the Ministry of the Attorney General for further legal sanctions.

Resources for business owners and operators

Local business owners or operators who have questions about current regulations are invited to visit our COVID-19 Resources for Workplaces web pagecomplete our online form, or call  1-800-267-2803, ext. 677. Guidance to help businesses operate more safely during COVID-19 is also available at Ontario.ca/covidsafety. We look forward to continuing to work with local businesses owners and workplaces to keep our community safe.

Residents who have a concern about non-compliance of COVID-19 guidance,  can submit a complaint using the form on the HPEPH website.

Media contacts

Emily Tubbs, Communications Specialist
etubbs@hpeph.ca

Maureen Hyland, Communications Specialist
mhyland@hpeph.ca

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit hpePublicHealth.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

We invite community partners and residents to share this Media Release with their respective networks.

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COVID-19 VACCINES IN HPEPH

Individuals turning 12 and over in 2021 who have not yet had a first dose, or those who meet the minimum second dose interval are now eligible to attend HPEPH walk-in clinics. To view the schedule, visit the Booking and Eligibility Page.

If you attended a clinic and did not receive an email copy of your vaccination receipt you can download a copy off the provincial booking site at covid19.ontariohealth.ca.

PHARMACY-BASED VACCINATIONS

Individuals turning 12 and over in 2021 can also receive their vaccination at participating local pharmacies. Please visit covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations for location and registration information.

CURRENT RESTRICTIONS IN HPEPH

On Friday, July 16 at 12:01 a.m., Ontario moved to Step 3  of the the Roadmap to Reopen. We must all continue to follow the public health measures, advice and restrictions. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people in Step 3, and distancing must be maintained. For more information, visit our COVID-19 page.

POTENTIAL EXPOSURE TO COVID-19?

If you are concerned about potential exposure to a positive case of COVID-19, please be reassured that any contacts of a confirmed case will be contacted directly and monitored by public health.

Low-risk and indirect contacts should self monitor for symptoms for 10 days from the time of potential exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop. Low risk contacts do not need to isolate unless symptoms develop, and can continue to attend school/work/daycare while monitoring for symptoms.