Niagara MPP apologizes for not wearing mask in group photo after backlash

A Progressive Conservative MPP is apologizing for not wearing a face covering at an event last weekend tied to a Facebook post showing a large gathering with few people wearing masks or physically distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Niagara West’s Sam Oosterhoff admitted he should have worn a mask when he took the group photo and apologized in a release to Global News.

“This was an event at a staffed banquet hall, with under 50 people, including 5 tables distanced and limited to under ten people at each,” said the MPP.

Read more: Niagara area dog tests positive for COVID 19 but most pets are still safe

“However, I should have worn a mask when we took a quick pic, given the proximity of everyone, and I apologize for failing to do so.”

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In a Twitter post, OHA president and CEO Anthony Dale said Oosteroff should resign from Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s office in connection with the incident.

“How many health care workers gathered this weekend for a party with 40 other people indoors?” said Dale.

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Read more: Ontario reports 851 new coronavirus cases and 6 more deaths

The MPP in his responses on social media referred to the province’s post in September that states limits on private social gatherings, which Oosteroff said did not apply in this case.

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The province’s directive does not apply limits at events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres, banquet halls, gyms, places of worship, recreational sporting or performing art events.

Oosterhoff is the youngest member of the Ontario legislature ever to be sworn into office. The Conservative was elected at age 19 on Nov. 17, 2016, beating former party leader Tim Hudak in a byelection.

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Niagara Region with 112 active COVID-19 cases, five outbreaks

Niagara public health reported another 23 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, and the region has five outbreaks connected with the coronavirus at two retirement homes (Pioneer Elder Care in St. Catharines, the Meadows of Dorchester in Niagara Falls) and three nursing homes (Millennium Trail Manor in Niagara Falls, Rapelje Lodge in Welland and Gilmore Lodge in Fort Erie).

There are currently 112 active cases as of Oct. 25 and the region’s total number of cases is 1,347 since the pandemic began.

Niagara has had 68 virus-related deaths since March.

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