Dangerous driving, lack of physical distancing and disregard for public gathering limits led the Ontario Provincial Police to start turning motorists away from Wasaga Beach on Saturday night.
The Town of Wasaga Beach saw a large influx of car enthusiasts over the Sept. 26 weekend for what police called an unsanctioned car rally.
Late on Sept. 26, OPP officers set up at the entrances to town and began turning away motorists that were not Wasaga Beach residents.
“There was an overall disregard of any kind of rules at all, so they made the decision in the interest of public safety to shut down the town, for lack of a better word,” said OPP Sgt. Jason Folz. “It's just a matter of time before somebody gets injured or killed based on these kind of driving behaviours.”
Folz said there was a lack of physical distancing and complete disregard for the limits on outdoor social gatherings (25 people), which were implemented to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
“I get the sense that certainly some of the local residents were frustrated with the with the number of people and the lack of respect for rules and dangerous driving behaviour,” he said.
OPP were assisted by a helicopter, which Folz said was used to track people fleeing from police, monitor gatherings, and collect evidence. Police from York Region and Peel Region also assisted.
Folz said information on the number of tickets and charges handed out over the weekend is not available yet.
“It's very concerning for all police agencies involved,” Folz said. “We're trying to eliminate that culture where people think they can drive anywhere they want just because they bring lots of numbers of people to block roads and do whatever they please.”
Shane MacDonald, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance