Of the nine new regional cases reported by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit on Thursday, five were in their 20s or 30s. Four of them were acquired by the community, and a cause is still under investigation.
The news did not surprise Barrie police officials, as most of the calls they said they had received, reporting that large groups gathering across the city involved groups between the ages of 20 and 35.
“We have received requests about this in the past few days,” said communications coordinator Peter Leon. “The calls come, we respond, educate and continue accordingly.
“The majority are under this age group,” he added.
Leon said that so far, the Barrie police have focused primarily on education when responding to such calls and that no fines or charges have yet been laid.
Emergency orders currently in effect in the province to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic include the closure of non-essential businesses, the banning of public organized events and social gatherings of more than five people and the price gouging for necessary products such as disinfectants. Failure to comply with any of these emergency orders is a violation of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), as is the failure to identify oneself precisely.
Failure to identify correctly results in a fine of $ 750 or $ 1,000 for preventing anyone from exercising power if a provincial offense officer issues a ticket. Failure to comply with an emergency order could also result in sanctions of up to one year in prison or a fine of up to $ 100,000 for an individual, $ 500,000 for a director of a company or 10 $ 000,000 for a corporation.
These sanctions apply in addition to sanctions for breach of other emergency orders.
Leon said that on Wednesday, Barrie police responded to about six calls from people gathering in large groups.
“I think that shows how things are speeding up a bit here. It’s a serious thing, “said Leon. “Some people, from what we hear and observe, don’t take it seriously. “
In the end, Leon says it’s about community safety.
“Even if you gather a group of people in a parking lot and they are spaced, there is still the possibility of transmission,” he said. “Bringing people together socially in open environments is not the answer. “
When asked about the most common reasons for coming together in large groups despite the implementation of the provincial emergency order, Leon said police in Barrie found that people were simply not not aware of the news.
“I think part of the problem is that things are moving so quickly. People are not necessarily aware of the changes that have been made, “said Leon.
However, it comes to a point where the excuses run out.
“The situation becomes more and more serious as the days go by,” said Leon. “The darkest days are yet to come. “
Although representatives from the Central Area OPP were also contacted for the story, they said they did not follow or report the demographics of the people they interacted with when they answered calls.
“Most people adhere to the warnings,” said Jason Folz, media officer for the Central Ontario Provincial Police. “When our people are sent, we haven’t had any fees yet, which should tell you that our public education work is working. “