Roumeliotis asks for EOHU inclusion in Ottawa’s social gathering rollback

Eastern Ontario Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis tells reporters on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 he has asked the province to include the area in the lowered limits for private social gatherings introduced in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa. (EOHU/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – The region’s medical officer of health has asked the Ontario government to include Prescott-Russell, SD&G and Cornwall in Ottawa’s social gathering rollbacks.

Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday that private social gatherings in Ottawa, Toronto and Peel Region would be rolled back to 25 outdoors (from 100) and 10 indoors (from 50) to try and quell the recent swell in COVID-19 numbers which have largely been attributed to people getting together.

During this afternoon’s semi-weekly call with reporters, Roumeliotis says he is “a bit disappointed” with the premier’s decision and hoped that it would have been a more regional approach, suggesting that people could take their private parties outside the City of Ottawa.

“We are bordering Ottawa and there are two different approaches. If you are living in Rockland, 12 minutes down west, you can’t gather and 12 minutes the other way you can gather more than 10 people,” he said.

The feeling isn’t exclusive to Roumeliotis as the mayor of Markham has asked the province to include York Region in the Toronto-Peel lowered gathering limits.

Asked by a Morrisburg Leader reporter whether he couldn’t just implement a Section 22 order and restrict public gatherings, Roumeliotis says he was prepared to do that but it’s easier from an enforcement standpoint if it comes from the province.

Roumeliotis has put in a request to Premier Doug Ford through Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit area to be included in Ottawa’s gathering restrictions.

The doctor added that he “cannot rule out the possibility that I will be ordering the same to align it (with Ottawa).”

The restrictions don’t apply to staffed businesses and facilities like restaurants, bars, gyms, banquet halls, movie theaters, convention centers or weddings, provided they are held in convention centers or halls. Private social gatherings are events like parties, dinners, barbecues and backyard private functions.

The new rule in Ottawa, Peel and Toronto takes effect tomorrow.

The fines are among the stiffest in the country – a minimum $10,000 fine for an organizer of private gathering upon conviction.