2 people charged in connection with Hugs Over Masks events, police say

Hamilton police say they've charged two people in relation to Hugs Over Masks events in the city's downtown area.

If convicted, offence can carry minimum fine of $10,000

Hamilton police have charged two people in relation to a pair of Hugs Over Masks events in the city's downtown area. Police believe the people charged were organizers, and say the events were protesting COVID-19 restrictions.

The two events took place on Jan. 3 and Jan. 10 in the area of Hamilton's city hall at Bay Street South and Main Street West. 

Officers say over 40 people attended the first event, and there were over 60 people at the other. 

Police say they identified the organizers before the second event and told them that the "planned gathering would be breaching offences under the Reopening Ontario Act and that charges would apply." But the event went ahead.

Hamilton police were at each event and confirmed that the numbers exceeded those allowed for outdoor gatherings. They say the alleged organizers were also at both events. 

A 27-year-old Hamilton man and 38-year-old Brampton woman have been charged. Each faces two counts of failing to comply with a continued section 7.0.2 order as per the Reopening Ontario Act. 

Police say someone convicted of the offence can be charged a minimum fine of $10,000.

Police also say they're reminding the public that participants can also be charged under the Reopening Ontario Act. 

To help stop the spread of COVID-19, the service says it's encouraging residents to stay home when ill, maintain a two-metre distance from others, wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible, wash hands frequently with soap and water, and cover coughs or sneezes with your sleeve or a tissue.