Mississauga mayor says city ticketed restaurants and individuals for violating gathering limits

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At a Sept. 23 press conference, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said that city bylaw officers have issued more than a dozen tickets to restaurants, bars, lounges and individuals who reportedly flouted provincial and municipal rules around gathering limits.

"Over the weekend, our bylaw officers were about and about responding to complaints. We didn't receive too many, about 20 calls," Crombie said at the press conference. 

"Unfortunately, the severity of the incidents resulted in officers issuing 16 charges because those involved…were aware of rules, were repeat offenders, fled, or refused to provide ID." 

Last week, the province said that only 10 people will be allowed at private indoor gatherings (down from the previous limit of 50) and 25 at private outdoor gatherings (down from 100).

These restrictions -- which were first imposed on Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon, Toronto, and Ottawa -- are now in effect for the whole province and only apply to private social gatherings such as parties, private get-togethers in both indoor and outdoor spaces (such as public parks) and backyard BBQs. 

While the provincial rules do not apply to businesses such as restaurants, bars, movie theatres, gyms or shopping centres, Mississauga has implemented bylaws restricting capacity at bars and restaurants. 

The city-specific bylaws, along with a mandatory face-covering rule, will remain in place until at least Jan. 20, 2021.

The city's bylaw imposes additional restrictions on restaurants and bars, including limiting capacity to 100 patrons and setting 10-person limits at individual tables. Restaurants in Mississauga were recently informed that they can continue to operate their extended outdoor patios until at least Nov. 15, 2020. 

At the press conference, Crombie said that a small minority of restaurants, bars and lounges were ticketed for exceeding capacity limits, improper PPE use, improper signage and allowing singing and dancing.

"Unfortunately, our bylaw folks witnessed some non-compliant behaviour [at bars and restaurants]," Crombie told reporters. 

"[They saw] over 100 customers, more than 10 patrons at a table, some servers not wearing masks properly and karaoke at one place and dancing at another." 

According to a report released on Sept. 1, the city received and responded to close to 1,000 complaints about bars and restaurants not following proper protocols prior to the new provincial resrctions on gathering limits.  

The report says that between July 10 (the day the city’s mandatory face-covering bylaw came into effect) and Sept. 1, the city received 936 complaints and carried out 945 inspections. The report indicates that the city has issued 27 notices of contravention, but had not given out any tickets.

Crombie told reporters that bylaw officers did ticket bar and restaurant owners over the weekend who did not comply with the rules, adding that many places that received previous warnings were found to be in compliance upon reinspection. 

"We haven't seen transmission directly linked to bars and pubs, but behaviour like this put it's on the line," she said. 

Crombie told reporters that non-compliant restaurants can face fines of $360 per infraction.

At the press conference, Crombie also said that the city will start focusing on enforcement rather than just education as cases climb in Mississauga and surrounding cities, adding that the city is taking a "zero-tolerance approach."

She also reminded residents—especially younger ones—to avoid large social gatherings. 

"Shrink your bubbles to the most essential people in your lives. Exposure through socializing is a primary driver of all new cases," Crombie said, adding that nearly 80 per cent of new cases are acquired through the community or transitted through household contact. 

Under the provincial gathering limits, anyone who hosts or attends an illegal gathering could be fined up to $10,000 for hosting and up to $750 for attending.

The provincial gathering limits do not apply to events or gatherings held in convention centres or banquet halls, or to people attending recreational sporting or performing art events.

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