Police have issued nearly 200 tickets related to a car rally at an Ontario beach town that violated COVID-19 safety protocols.
Officers had to close the town of Wasaga Beach to non-residents on Saturday after hundreds of car enthusiasts gathered over the weekend.
Ontario Provincial Police say 11 tickets were issued for violating the Reopening Ontario Act.
OPP also say they issued 172 tickets for things like speeding, dangerous driving, not wearing a seatbelt, and careless driving. According to police, there were 14 cases where cars were removed from the road for being unlawful or unsafe.
Premier Doug Ford has rebuked those who participated in the weekend event and said they should consider the implications of their actions.
“I really wish I could get a hold of their grandparents or their parents or a family member,” the premier said Monday. “They should go home and tell them how proud they are that they broke the regulations and the guidelines.”
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Ford said he hoped those who broke COVID-19 safety protocols faced harsh penalties.
“We’re going to be on to them,” he said. “We have the largest fines in the country and I hope every one of them gets a $10,000 fine, I really do.”
Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for Simcoe Muskoka Public Health, said that the car rally and events like it could contribute to Ontario’s rising numbers of COVID-19 cases.
“Large unauthorized gatherings such as this one have the potential to increase the number of cases that we are seeing, both locally and in the communities from where the attendants originated,” said Gardner in a written statement.
Ontario recorded 700 new cases on Monday, most of them in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa.
OPP Sgt. Jason Folz said Saturday’s event is believed to be related to a larger car rally in the United States. Due to the pandemic-related border closure, the Canadian group decide to have a meet-up in Wasaga Beach, he said.
Gardner said he applauds the police for their work in enforcing the size limit on public gatherings.
Folz said the town of Wasaga Beach heard of plans for the event and responded by installing some speed bumps in municipal parking lots ahead of time to try and deter some of the dangerous driving.
Police officers from Peel and York regions were also in Wasaga Beach this weekend to help contain the situation, he said.
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