As university and college students return to Ottawa for the start of the school year, Ottawa Police and Ottawa Bylaw will be deploying significant resources to make sure everyone follows the COVID-19 measures.
The new school year will begin next week at Algonquin College, La Cite Collegiale, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa.
Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly says Ottawa Police, Ottawa Bylaw and campus security will be keeping an eye on students to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
"There will be an increased presence around campuses to ensure a safe and healthy return to school for students and the residents in and around those campuses," said Chief Sloly during a media availability Wednesday afternoon.
"The Ottawa Police Service takes this public health and public safety issue very, very seriously."
The chief reminded students that Ontario's COVID-19 measures limit indoor gatherings to a maximum of 50 people, and 100 people for outdoor events.
"We've all heard in recent weeks that people under the age of 30 represent the largest group contracting COVID-19," said Mayor Jim Watson.
"Of the nearly 3,000 cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, those 30 and under make up almost 900 of those cases. This group includes many college and university groups."
Watson sad Ottawa Public Health has been working with all post-secondary institutions to ensure the preparedness on campus for the new semester.
"This is typically a celebratory time for students, making new friends and seeing old ones. However, when students do get together, we are all asking you to be Social Wise," said Watson.
"This means that you can be social, but you must limit your close contacts and adhere to COVID Wise principles."
Ottawa Public Health reminds everyone to be COVIDWise while on campus:
W – Wear a mask or face covering where required, or when you cannot maintain a physical distance of two metres
I – Isolate yourself from others when you are sick
S – Stay two-metres apart from those outside your household
E – Exercise proper hand hygiene, wash your hands regularly and use sanitizer especially before touching your face
Ottawa Public Health notes Ottawa's Mandatory Mask Bylaw makes face masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces.
Mayor Jim Watson told reporters that COVID-19 continues to circulate in our community, and everyone must do their part to limit transmission.
"How this year unfolds is ultimately in the hands of the students that come to the four post-secondary institutions here in Ottawa. If you want to see your university and college experience return to normal, it's imperative that you be COVID and Social Wise," said Watson.
"This is a very different and difficult year for everyone, and I encourage all students in Ottawa to please be respectful of one another, not to hold these mass parties off campus at your homes."
And as students prepare to say hello to old friends and meet new ones, Watson insisted Ottawa Police and Ottawa Bylaw will be patrolling nighbourhoods to make sure everyone continues to respect the COVID-19 measures.
"Bylaw and Ottawa Police Service will be out issuing tickets for anyone that breaks the provincial order that prohibits large gatherings," said the mayor.
"If you don't cooperate, you'll have to pay a fine of $880. That is a very expensive fine for hosting a party that's gotten out of control with far too many people."
Students at Carleton and uOttawa are divided on the need for a fine. Second year Carleton student Nathan Tobin thinks with times like these a fine is necessary.
"I think if you can afford a party with more than 50 people inside or 100 outside you probably have more than enough money to pay that fine," Tobin said. "Honestly maybe it should be higher."
Still Liv Reynolds, a first year student at uOttawa, thinks that as long as students are wearing their masks and being respectful of each other there is no need for fines.
"A lot of us are trying to do our best to navigate around this while still being able to maintain our social live," Reynolds said. "I think the fine is too high."