The City of Burlington has reversed its ban on drive-by processions after saying last week that they are too risky amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Friday, Mayor Marianne Meed Ward told Global News she noticed a need to implement the ban after participating in one of the events.
“If people are queuing up in advance for one of these events, are they going to be tempted to get out of their car? Talk to each other? We’re all so cooped up,” Ward said.
“I realized, just through experiencing that myself, there were some logistic and other challenges.”
Halton Region Public Health also advised against such events.
Drive-by parades have occurred throughout the world during the pandemic to celebrate big events like birthdays and weddings, as well as to honour health-care workers.
The ban led to criticism, including from Premier Doug Ford, who encouraged the municipality to be “lenient” with the vehicle parades.
“I’d understand if there were groups of people marching down the street side by side chanting, but that’s not the case,” Ford said.
Ward said no additional laws had to be created to enforce the ban, saying that the provincial emergency order which bans gatherings of more than five people applies to those in vehicles, as well.
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“The fines exist, so if somebody is gathering [in groups of] more than five, there are provincial orders already for that,” Ward said.
However, in a news release on Monday, the City of Burlington said it received “clarification” from the provincial government regarding the laws.
“Provincial emergency orders do not limit drive-by parades to five cars, providing people remain in their vehicle, do not stop or get out,” the statement said.
The City is encouraging those who organize drive-by parades to alert neighbours ahead of the procession, refrain gathering at a centralized location, and stay on your own property if observing.
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“I spoke to Premier Ford this weekend who understood our concerns with large events and praised how the city has been handling the COVID-19 crisis,” Ward said in the statement.
“I think we can all support some reasonable guidelines. We appeal to citizens to use good judgement and be reasonable in limiting the size of these events.”
— With files from Gabby Rodrigues
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