Saskatoon homeowner fined $2,000 after 'large social gathering' leads to 21 COVID-19 cases

About 47 people were at the gathering, according to a news release.

Health officials say about 47 people were at the gathering

Under a public health order, gatherings of more than 30 people are prohibited in most cases. (Trevor Bothorel/Radio-Canada)

A $2,000 fine has been issued to the organizer of a "large social gathering" in a Saskatoon home that led to at least 21 COVID-19 cases, the Saskatchewan health ministry says.

About 47 people attended the private gathering, according to a Thursday news release from the ministry.

Officials later confirmed it was a homeowner who was fined.

Under provincial rules, the limit for gatherings is 30 people, provided there is enough space to maintain a two-metre separation between individuals who are not in the same household.

Earlier this summer, provincial officials became aware of a couple of gatherings in Saskatoon that broke the public health orders at the time, but no fines were given in those cases.

Provincial Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said education is still important, but this latest gathering comes after the public health order has been in place for months.

"I think this is a cautionary tale for all of us. And it's very unfortunate that this happened. I don't think anyone plans an event with the view that transmission may happen," Shahab said. 

"But I think it just forces us to think through … why are we having a gathering, where are we having it, can we space it out, how will we plan it, and certainly not exceed the limits."

Shahab says as the weather cools and more people move inside to spend time, it's paramount to follow the public health orders. 

Premier Scott Moe said he's more disappointed than frustrated.

"It is disappointing that we do have people that aren't adhering to public health guidelines, in particular ... when we do have our students going back to school," Moe said. 

The government said it is growing increasingly concerned about public and private gatherings that contravene public health orders and guidelines.

Fines can be as high as $2,000 for individuals and $10,000 for corporations, plus a victim surcharge.