Mississauga launching weekend blitz to target public gatherings

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If you were hoping to clandestinely congregate with your 10 best friends in a park or public space in Mississauga, you could be looking at a stiff fine. 

The City of Mississauga says that security officers will be actively patrolling parks to enforce emergency orders to limit gatherings and promote physical distancing. The emergency orders, passed down by the province, were implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

Officers will be issuing fines of at least $750 where applicable and barricading the entrances to park parking lots where possible. Vehicles in parked in lots will be ticketed and towed.

The city is also reminding residents that they cannot use city-owned playgrounds, outdoor fitness equipment, sport courts, leash-free zones, picnic shelters, and skateboard parks.

"We are in the midst of a health emergency and we need everyone to do their part. While it is exciting that spring has arrived and we all want to enjoy the beautiful weekend weather, we cannot enjoy parks and outdoor spaces like we have in the past," said Mayor Bonnie Crombie in a statement.

"I have received countless e-mails, tweets and messages about people not respecting physical distancing and reports of vandalism in our parks. We have enforcement in place to protect people - we aren't doing this because we want to, we are doing this because we have to. We are asking people to listen and please follow the rules. Fighting this will be a marathon, not a sprint. I ask residents to please stay patient and stay home where possible."

City parks and trails remain open for public use. That said, people are reminded to practice physical distancing and ensure they remain approximately two metres (six feet) away from people who are not members of their household. 

The city says that signs have been installed in these areas and facilities, playgrounds and parking lots are being locked or barricaded where possible. In addition, basketball backboards have been removed.

The city also says that by-law enforcement and security officers are enforcing provincial orders related to non-essential business closures and gatherings of more than five people (households of five or more people will not be fined), in partnership with Peel Regional Police. 

Residents can call 3-1-1 to report non-compliance.

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