Officials say they’re concerned about thousands of people possibly coming to gather in the Norfolk County, Ont., area on Sunday to mark a traditional party weekend despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
On the second Sunday of every July, thousands typically gather at Pottahawk Island for the annual “Pottahawk Pissup.” The island is located near Turkey Point and Long Point.
Ontario Provincial Police Const. Ed Sanchuk said the event sees plenty of alcohol consumption and people grouped close together in Lake Erie.
It’s previously been billed on social media as “North America’s biggest boat party” with more than 2,000 boats and 10,000 people in attendance.
“There is a possibility of a large contingent of people showing up, absolutely,” Sanchuk told Global News on Friday.
“I can guarantee right now that you are going to see an increased police presence not only on the water, but off the water. For the enthusiasts coming to Pottahawk Point this weekend, we’re just asking them to use some common sense.”
Sanchuk said it would be difficult for the police to cancel such an event given the number of people who typically show up without any organization.
“If you are going to be dropping an anchor out in Lake Erie and you are going to be attending the event, we’re asking people to at least anchor their boats two metres apart so that everyone can properly distance themselves and to adhere to your social circle of not more than 10 people for everyone’s safety,” he said.
Sanchuk also cautioned people against operating any motor vehicle or boat while impaired.
Premier Doug Ford was asked about the party during a press conference Friday and said he doesn’t want to see it go ahead.
“I’m just not in favour of this unless people want to stay on their own boat or pleasure craft,” he said.
“Be careful and socially distance. That’s the golden rule.”
Officials are also concerned about the possibility of Americans crossing the border to attend the party.
There have been reports of that occurring recently, including in Kingston where the mayor said he has received several complaints about Americans breaking the rules.
In a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, it’s currently illegal for people to cross into Canada from the U.S. on a boat for recreational purposes.
“Our American friends, I love you, but stay at home,” Ford said.
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