No Pussy-Footing: Legal orders in effect at midnight for essential retail, people ordered to isolate

Local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The time for community tips is over and the time for tickets has begun.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says he will be issuing an order, effective at midnight tonight (Friday), that essential retailers, like grocery stores, control crowds and put health prevention controls in place, such as limiting the number of people in the store at any given time.

“We’ve been getting some complaints that people (at some grocery stores) run around, they congregate and they don’t follow the signs that are on the floor and there is no crowd control and people congregate in the parking lot and that shouldn’t be happening,” Roumeliotis said.

The other order, which Toronto has already done, will enforce the 14-day isolation for people who are either positive for COVID-19, come in close contact with an infected patient and have to isolate or have symptoms of COVID-19 whether they’re tested or not.

That order also takes effect at midnight tonight (Friday).

“There will be some penalties if we see that an individual breaks that order,” Roumeliotis said.

Fines can be a maximum of $5,000 for a person and $25,000 for a business.

“Here we are, right at the verge of being able to make a bigger difference in terms of the number of cases and very importantly the number of people that will die. It’s in our hands right now.”

Roumeliotis explained that if people stick to preventative measures we could keep the death count locally in Cornwall, SD&G and Prescott-Russell to “as low as 50 deaths. Fifty deaths too many, I know. But these viruses kill the elderly. They kill vulnerable people. I wish we could say we can bring that to zero.” So far, there has been nobody that has died from coronavirus in the health unit region. But the doctor stressed that this is meant to protect our most vulnerable population.

The orders will be enforced by a combination of health unit enforcement officers, Cornwall bylaw officers and local police.

“We’re speaking with our police officers, our community partners, our bylaw officers. We’re all on the same page. We’re going to be drastically looking around. There’s not going to be any pussy-footing. If fines are needed to be given, they’ll be given. Warnings will be given. But we will not accept that people break these recommendations.”

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