Hamilton's physical distancing bylaw is back and so are $500 fines

The city is implementing a new physical distancing bylaw since the old one ended with the province's state of emergency. Violating this one could mean a fine of $500.

City will also re-enforce street parking rules starting next week

Hamilton has a new physical distancing bylaw after the old one ended with the province's state of emergency. (Erik White/CBC)

The city of Hamilton is re-instating a physical distancing bylaw, meaning you still have to keep a two metre distance from others — or risk being fined. 

And overnight parking enforcement is returning after being relaxed for the past months of COVID-19 changes. 

The new physical distancing bylaw came into effect on Thursday. The previous rule came to an end on July 24 with the province's state of emergency and left the city without the means to enforce the key pandemic fighting tool.

The new bylaw, the city said, will ensure that people going into a business or spending time in their communities follow the rules. They also say it will keep businesses in line with provincial legislation.

If you don't stay two metres away from another person who isn't part of your household and in your social circle, you could be fined $500. 

Obstructing an "officer of authorized staff" will also mean a fine of $500.

The city says its bylaw officers will seek "voluntary compliance" before issuing fines to people who aren't following the rule. Around 113 people were charged under the old bylaw. 

'The extension of Hamilton's [bylaw] ensures we continue to do our best to protect everybody from the virus," said Mayor Fred Eisenberger is a media release. "Please continue to follow public health recommendations to help keep yourself, your neighbours and our community safe."

The new bylaw doesn't have an end date to allow city council to repeal it whenever physical distancing in Hamilton is redeemed "no long necessary." 

The city says the bylaw doesn't apply to police, city employees or people hired by the city to do work or services in a public space while they're working or enforcing the rule.

The city also has a bylaw, reviewed every three months, mandating that people wear masks in indoor public spaces. 

City re-enforcing street parking, reopening for marriages

On Monday, Aug. 17 , the city will re-enforce the 12-hour on street and overnight parking bylaw. The city said it relaxed the bylaw because many people were working from home, but since the city has moved into Stage 3 of the province's reopening plan, people are returning to work. 

The city insists parking staff will take an educational approach with residents during the first few weeks. 

Also starting next week, municipal services centres in in Ancaster, Glanbrook, Stoney Creek, Dundas and Flamborough will reopen.

The city said residents can pay property taxes, parking tickets and traffic tickets, and buy HSR bus tickets and passes. They can also pick up new blue boxes or composters, get animal licenses, and apply for a marriage license or for a burn permit and pick up well water test kits.

Centres in Ancaster, Glanbrook and Stoney Creek will be open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Those in Dundas and Flamborough will be open the same hours, but Monday to Thursday. 

Starting Monday, Aug 24, you can get married at city hall. The city says non-religious marriage ceremonies or vow renewals can be booked by appointment only, Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

Anyone visiting city hall for a meeting or ceremony has to complete a COVID-19 screening, wear a face covering or mask, and follow the physical distancing bylaw. 

The city is reminding people to continue to wash their hands, take extra precautions around the elderly or those with chronic conditions, and wear a mask or face covering in an enclosed, public space. It also says residents should stay diligent and if sick, stay home, self-isolate, and get tested.