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Although indoor gatherings are prohibited, GOVA Transit will offer extended hours and free service after 10 p.m. tonight, Greater Sudbury announced Thursday.

GOVA Zone hours will be extended where available to match the transit schedule. Riders must wear a mask or face covering when using transit.

In a news release, Mayor Brian Bigger said the free bus rides are definitely not an endorsement to break the province-wide COVID lockdown.

“The free New Year’s Eve transit program will remain in place tonight to ensure those who choose not to comply or who live alone and are visiting another household have an option to get home without putting others at risk,” Bigger said. “This is not an endorsement to gather. We know not everyone will stay home, and if we can keep even one person who has been drinking off our roads, it’s worth it.”

As part of the lockdown, indoor gatherings with anyone outside of your household are prohibited. People who live alone can have exclusive, close contact with another household to help reduce the negative impacts of social isolation.

Outdoor amenities open

Outdoor organized public events and social gatherings are limited to 10 people and must comply with public health advice on physical distancing.

Trails and outdoor spaces, as well as outdoor skating rinks and sliding hills remain open. Users must maintain physical distancing from people who are not part of their household at all times and wear a mask or face covering if distancing is difficult.

“I want to thank each and every one of you for doing your part during this shutdown,” Bigger said.

“We’ve all made sacrifices over the holidays, and we must continue to do our part for the greater good. If you are planning a gathering tonight, I urge you to reconsider. A party is not worth the risks we are putting on our friends and family, and on our most vulnerable. We’ve all worked so hard. Let’s continue to do everything we can to keep each other safe.”

For up-to-date information and details on service changes related to COVID-19, visit www.greatersudbury.ca/COVID.

For local COVID-19 information, visit www.phsd.ca/covid-19.

For information on the provincial shutdown, visit www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-provincewide-shutdown.