City to enforce restrictions on social gatherings during pandemic

Fines range from $500 to $100,000 for violating Nuisance Party Bylaw and Reopening Ontario Act

“Adhering to social gathering restrictions is an essential measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the joint statement said.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, students living off-campus can expect to be fined for attending unauthorized social gatherings.

Kingston Police, the City of Kingston, and Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health published a joint statement Aug. 27 advising the community to avoid large social gatherings. 

“COVID-19 rates remain low in KFL&A, and all members of the community must stay vigilant in the collective fight against this disease,” the statement said. “The community’s ability to contain disease spread depends on our commitment to following public health’s requirements and guidance.”

Those found at nuisance parties or social gatherings of more than 50 people indoors or 100 people outdoors can expect minimum fines of $500 to $1,130 and maximum fines of up to $100,000 with mandatory court attendance. 

Individuals who refuse to identify themselves at such a gathering may face further charges.

READ MORE: COVID-19 pushes Queen’s orientation week online

Kingston Police, City of Kingston Municipal Enforcement Officers, and KFL&A Public Health officials will enforce these measures under the Nuisance Party Bylaw and the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020. According to the statement, enforcement will be “immediate.”

Established in 2018, the Nuisance Party Bylaw allows large social gatherings to be declared as nuisance parties. Those charged must appear before a Kingston justice of the peace.

“Adhering to social gathering restrictions is an essential measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the statement said.

Under Stage 3 of Ontario’s reopening plan, social gatherings have a limit of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Individuals are still required to maintain a physical distance of two metres from those outside of their social circles—the group of 10 people whom they are in close contact with.

According to the KFL&A Public Health COVID-19 dashboard, the region has three active cases at the time of publication.

“It is important for our community to pay close attention to and learn from reports of surges of positive COVID-19 cases among young adults across Canada associated with social activities such as parties and other large social gatherings, and to take necessary precautions,” the statement said.

READ MORE: University expects just 6,600 students to be on campus in fall term

Kingston City Council passed a measure Aug. 11 allowing the use of Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMP) to enforce the Nuisance Party Bylaw and the Noise Bylaw.  

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, nuisance behaviours, such as excessive noise, unsanctioned street parties and large gatherings, pose an additional risk to the community and put an additional strain on public resources, including first responders,” the report said.

Enforcement partners are working with the University to ensure an understanding of the legislation.

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