As the province enters another lockdown on Thursday (Jan. 14), Hamilton’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) still hasn’t received written, formal guidelines from the province for enforcing the stay-at-home order the premier announced on Tuesday.
Paul Johnson, the EOC’s director, said, during a virtual media briefing on Wednesday afternoon, that “there will be tickets and charges laid” by bylaw officers, police and provincial authorities if businesses, households or residents are found to be in violation of current COVID-19 regulations.
The expectation is that fines and protocols associated with the stay-at-home order will closely resemble those we’ve seen in the previous lockdown, but the City is still awaiting clarity from the province.
“If businesses are clearly not following the rules, then that’s a violation [of current COVID-19 regulations],” he said, noting that big box stores, grocery stores, and pharmacies that are still open for in-person shopping, will be under scrutiny.
“We’re in a fine and compliance role,” he said. “It’s not about educating people about the regulations like it was earlier on in the pandemic.”
For the most part, Johnson noted, it’s about ‘personal decision making’ and doing the right thing to prevent the spread of the virus.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger echoed these sentiments and urged Hamiltonians to exercise good judgment.
“This is really all about taking some personal responsibility and stopping the spread of this virus,” he said. “All of us, collectively, need to be doing this not just some of us.”
In an effort to simplify what is expected of Hamiltonians, Eisenberger reiterated that people should not be gathering with people outside of their household, even outside.
“The more you can stay home and avoid people outside your household, the better off we’ll be,” he said.
When accessing Hamilton’s outdoor ice rinks and tobogganing hills or other outdoor amenities that remain open to the public, people are asked to wear a mask and maintain a physical distance.
Hamilton Public Health Service’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Elizabeth Richardson also provided an update on the city’s vaccination efforts, reporting that more than 8,000 people have been vaccinated across the city as of Wednesday morning.
The site of Hamilton’s worst COVID-19 outbreak, Grace Villa, will start seeing vaccinations in the coming days, Dr. Richardson said.
She also said that they expect to have the Moderna vaccine circulating in the community by the end of next week.
Hamilton is reporting 158 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and no new deaths.
There have been a total of 7,720 cases of COVID-19 in Hamilton since the start of the pandemic and 206 people have died as a result of the virus.
No new outbreaks were reported on Wednesday but there are still 34 active outbreaks occurring in various settings across the city at the moment and 1,111 active cases of the virus in the community.
There are 117 people with COVID-19 being treated in Hamilton hospitals presently.
— with a photo from the Canadian Press