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Two local businesses charged in COVID-19 compliance blitz

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Tara Jeffrey

Two local businesses were charged under the Reopening Ontario Act as part of a three-day ‘COVID-19 compliance blitz.’

The owner of Athena’s diner in Petrolia confirmed his business was one of the two charged. A Ministry of Labour official serves the diner with three offence notices on Nov. 5.

“We’ve been open this whole thing and there hasn’t been one case linked to this restaurant,” Tom Stoukas said in a Facebook post. “I say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Stoukas added he intends to fight the charges in court.

Lambton Public Health confirmed five charges were laid at two locations as part of a ‘multi-ministry’ enforcement campaign that ran Nov. 4 to 6.

Provincial offences officers completed 164 visits “to raise awareness of the COVID-19 safety requirements,” said Kalem McSween, spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

“Data from our most recent visits continues to show the vast majority of businesses are following the rules. The goal of these visits is to help workers and the public stay safe, and to keep businesses open.”

The Ministry did not provide the name of the second location charged.

Working with Lambton Public Health and the City of Sarnia, officers visited restaurants, recreational facilities and others where patrons are required to provide proof of vaccination to enter.

“At the discretion of the officer, businesses found to be in non-compliance can face a ticket of $1,000 or a penalty of up to $10,000,000,” said McSween, noting that visits and tickets would include all types of COVID-19 safety issues, ranging from screening and masking requirements to vaccine certification requirements.

“We understand people are frustrated and tired of these public health measures,” said Mike Gorgey, manager of health promotion for Lambton Public Health.

“But in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and avoid future lockdowns in our community it is imperative we all continue to do our part and stay vigilant.

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