The Ontario government will be conducting a series of spot checks on Ottawa malls and retailers this week to ensure local businesses are following the letter of the law surrounding COVID-19 restrictions during the holiday shopping season.
The city said its staff and Ottawa Public Health will work with the province this week on an “education and enforcement initiative” to ensure businesses are complying with the province’s Reopening Ontario Act and Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
In other words, the province wants to see how well local businesses are complying with Ontario’s COVID-19 restrictions framework, which currently sees Ottawa in the orange zone.
Among the restrictions on Ottawa retailers aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus are a limit on the number of people who can gather inside a shop and a requirement to manage distance between patrons inside and in lineups out front.
Malls also have to have a COVID-19 safety plan on hand, which inspectors might ask to see during their spot checks.
Restaurants also face limits of four people per table, a hard cap of 50 people seated inside and up to 100 outdoors as well as requirements to contact trace all of their patrons. Bars also must close at 10 p.m. and stop serving alcohol by 9 p.m.
“This type of proactive education and enforcement initiative is being conducted province-wide, and responds to inquiries and complaints registered by Ontario residents on possible incidents that may compromise public safety – especially during the busy holiday season,” read a city statement on the inspections released Monday morning.
The province’s proactive inspections come after an Ottawa bar’s two locations had their liquor licences suspended late last month in relation to a COVID-19 inspection incident.
An Ottawa police officer was preparing to inspect the Senate Sports Tavern on Clarence Street shortly after 10 p.m. on Nov. 29 when he noticed a group heading into the bar past the designated closing hours, according to a statement released Saturday by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
When the officer attempted to enter the bar, he was allegedly assaulted by the owner of the business, according to the AGCO.
The owner is now facing charges of assault on a police officer, possession of illegal narcotics and obstructing an inspection, the AGCO said.
Both the Clarence Street location and the Senate South restaurant on Bank Street have had their liquor licences suspended with proposals to be fully revoked as a result of the incident.
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