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Positive COVID-19 cases linked to multiple house parties

While we may not be seeing partying in the University District like this currently, Public Health has linked positive COVID-19 cases to parties within the district where up to 100 people have been dispersed by Bylaw or Police officers. Photo by Logan Cadue in September 2020.

On Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health confirmed that positive COVID-19 cases have been linked to multiple house parties in the University District.

According to Public Health, multiple positive cases attended several house parties in the University District during their periods of communicability. Those house parties were held on Friday, Dec. 11 and Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020.

“All individuals who attended house parties in this area are required to self-isolate and to get tested if symptoms occur. Once tested, individuals should continue to self-isolate until they receive a negative test result. If after this time, an individual develops symptoms they are required to self-isolate again and to get re-tested,” KFL&A Public Health said in a press release.

This comes after Dr. Moore cautioned the region has a “crucial week” ahead, and as Queen’s University confirmed 38 cases of COVID-19 in their off-campus community since Monday, Nov. 30, with the majority of the cases reported in the past week. St Lawrence College has also reported one case in that time.

These parties have occurred despite ongoing enforcement. According to the City of Kingston, Bylaw Officers have filed 31 charges under the Reopening Ontario Act. These charges are from eight different locations in downtown Kingston, and are each for a minimum $10,000 for hosting an unsanctioned gathering. The Reopening Ontario Act charges were the result of investigations completed in November and December 2020, but did not include the parties hosted in the University District on December 11 and 12.

The following is a list of number of fines, the dates they took place on, and the streets they happened on:

  • 4 on Nov. 6 on Victoria Street
  • 5 on Nov.  8 on William Street
  • 1 on Nov. 8 on William Street
  • 3 on Nov. 15 on Park Street
  • 7 on Nov. 13 on Earl Street
  • 3 on Nov. 22 on Ellice Ave
  • 6 on Nov. 22 on Yonge Street
  • 2 on Nov. 29 on University Ave

“We are now seeing that positive cases in the community have been linked to these sorts of large gatherings, which are oftentimes well over the provincially mandated limit. These are illegal and they pose a significant risk of spreading COVID-19 to many people very quickly,” said Kyle Compeau, Manager of Licensing and Enforcement for the City of Kingston.

“As we head into the holiday season, please remember that preventing the spread of COVID-19 is a community effort. Keep friends and loved ones safe by avoiding large gatherings.”

Each Part 3 Summons listed above is subject to a minimum $10,000 fine upon a conviction being registered. Kingston Police have also issued 19 Reopening Ontario Act charges and one fine under the Quarantine Act.

“As we have witnessed infection numbers rising at an alarming rate throughout our region, it is imperative to remember that the Reopening Ontario Act restrictions have been set in place to mitigate risk of further community spread,” said Const. Ash Gutheinz, Media Relations Officer for Kingston Police.

Unlike the City’s Administrative Monetary Penalties, which are paid or appealed through the City, each Reopening Ontario Act charge is processed through the Provincial Offences Court System. Hosting a social gathering or residential party with more than 10 people indoors or more than 25 people outside is still subject to a minimum $10,000 fine while Kingston is at the Yellow-Protect level. Guests or participants at such a gathering are subject to an $880 fine each.

It is expected that individuals who receive a Part 3 Summons will need to appear before a Justice of the Peace in early 2021.

“These large gatherings are extremely dangerous in a pandemic,” said Compeau. “We’re seeing gatherings well over the provincially mandated minimums, with our officers sometimes dispersing 50 to 100 people.”

For information on how and where to get COVID-19 testing, visit Kingstonist’s COVID-19 Quick Reference Guide, which is updated daily with the latest data on the pandemic locally.

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