Norfolk County is urging those thinking of visiting Port Dover for Friday the 13th this week to put off their plans until mass gatherings are once again considered safe.
Depending on the weather, the motorcycle rally can attract tens of thousands of visitors to the town – a situation which, given the COVID-19 pandemic, would put both attendees and residents at risk.
On the weekend, the Province moved Norfolk County into its new yellow “Protect” category of COVID-19 response due to increasing numbers of positive cases, clusters and outbreaks.
“As the Mayor of Norfolk County and a resident of Port Dover, I fully appreciate the importance of this event to our area, particularly for small local businesses who are already struggling,” says Mayor Kristal Chopp. “But a large gathering this week could lead to even more restrictions imposed by the Provincial government. That’s why we’re asking people to please skip this event. We’ll be here ready to welcome you all back when it’s safe to do so.”
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Shanker Nesathurai is also calling on people to stay away from Port Dover on Friday, calling the potential for large crowds gathering in the area “extremely worrisome.”
Friday the 13th is not a formal event and can’t be “cancelled” by the County, however a number of steps have been taken to discourage visitors, including denying permits for vendors on both County and private property and engaging in a messaging campaign in neighbouring jurisdictions.
Council may consider other measures, such as temporarily reducing parking in the town, at a council-in-committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday night.
Both OPP and bylaw officers will be on patrol in Port Dover Friday, and the Province has been notified of the potential for large crowds in the area.
“We know bikers love Dover as much as we do, that’s why we’re hoping they’ll show their support by staying away on Friday and helping to keep the community safe and healthy,” says Chopp.