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COVID-19: Hamilton’s escarpment stairs to be used for ‘essential travel’ only as local cases surge

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COVID-19: Hamilton’s escarpment stairs to be used for ‘essential travel’ only as local cases surge

The City of Hamilton is designating that the escarpment stairs as of Monday (April 19) are to be used for ‘essential purposes only’ and recreational users will be ticketed.

In an update to the Board of Health, the director of Hamilton’s Emergency Operations Centre, Paul Johnson, told councillors that signs will be going up on the stairs over the next couple of days.

Johnson warned that people who are using the stairs for recreational purposes, or any other reason other than travel to and from essential workplaces, doctors appointments, grocery shopping etc. will be ticketed and fined.

The current fine is $750, with a victim surcharge that brings the total up to $880, Johnson said.

While transmission of the virus has not been linked to the use of the city’s stairs, Johnson said they are taking this ‘proactive’ approach to discourage people from travelling around the city.

Bylaw enforcement will also be stepping up enforcement of COVID-19 protocols at playgrounds and parks across Hamilton.

Johnson noted that he was dismayed to see crowded playgrounds over the weekend where crowds of people were not physically distancing and maskless.

He said that the city will start ticketing and fining people at parks and playgrounds who are not following public health guidelines to help prevent the spread of the virus.

On Monday, Hamilton reported 214 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two deaths associated with the virus.

According to Public Health Services data shared on the City of Hamilton website, there are 1,403 active cases of the virus in the community at the moment and 40 active outbreaks.

Also at Monday’s Board of Health meeting, Hamilton’s Chief Medical Officer of Health provided an update on the city’s response to the virus.

She noted that Hamilton’s key indicators — the Weekly Incidence Rate and Test Positivity Rate — are at an all-time high and continue to steadily climb and the city’s ICU occupancy sits above 90 per cent.

The Province is reporting 4,447 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and 19 virus-related deaths.
Hospitalizations across the province are at 2,202 and there are 755 people in ICUs.

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