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Planned public gatherings under investigation by Sault Police

Police have issued provincial offences notices under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act following a recent weekend gathering
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The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service and Algoma Public Health (APH) issued a warning today regarding  restrictions on both indoor and outdoor gatherings under the current provincial stay-at-home order.

The joint notice comes after a small group gathered recently on St. Mary's River Drive. Police say they're "actively investigating planned public gatherings."

Information has also been circulating via social media – both in private Facebook groups and public posts – promoting a 'Stand For Freedom' event planned for this Friday at Bellevue Park.

The promotional material indicates that "masking is optional" during the family-friendly public gathering which will apparently include live entertainment and "activities for kids."

Full text of today's joint notice from APH and Sault Police follows:

The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service is actively investigating planned public gatherings. During the current provincial lockdown, indoor and outdoor gatherings are restricted.

"In recent days, we have been clear with the community – anyone found to be violating the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) will be fined accordingly," Chief Hugh Stevenson says. "A large public gathering goes directly against the mandate of the EMCPA and its intent which is to ensure the health of our community. Anyone attending an event such as this will be fined."

Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, anyone found attending an organized gathering could face a fine of up to $1,000 and anyone found organizing a gathering could face a minimum fine of $10,000.

On April 18, 2021 police were notified of an organized gathering taking place on St. Mary's River Drive.

Upon attending, officers identified and spoke with eight people who were taking part in the gathering.

As a result of the investigation into the gathering, three people have been issued provincial offences notices under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Officers are currently working on issuing the five other individuals with a provincial offences notice.

Algoma Public Health reminds all residents that there continues to be ongoing risk of contracting COVID-19 in our local communities and variants of concern (VOC) continue to spread. The B.1.1.7 strain has been found in Algoma and it spreads much more aggressively and can cause more severe disease, even in younger people.

The safest way, and your first step in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Algoma is to stay at home. COVID-19 transmission can still happen outdoors if people are not staying two metres apart and wearing masks.

Even if you have received the COVID-19 vaccine, the majority of our communities are not yet fully immunized. This means that, for the moment, everyone must continue to avoid close contact with people outside our households, regardless of whether we have had the vaccine.