The City of Guelph says one of its employees has been forced into self-isolation away from their family after being intentionally coughed on.
The incident happened on Sunday at around 2 p.m. as the employee was conducting COVID-19 screening at the Market Square wading pool outside city hall.
Guelph police say someone walked past a lineup and deliberately coughed in the employee’s face.
It’s one of a few cases in which someone in Guelph has been coughed on by a stranger during the pandemic. Guelph police have been laying assault charges in these types of investigations.
The employee was not injured, but the city said that person is now self-isolating while awaiting test results for the novel coronavirus.
Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie posted a video on Twitter to voice his frustration.
“If our city staff are not respected when they are adhering to the guidelines from public health and the protocols in place by the City of Guelph Corporation, then we will have no choice but to shut these amenities down and not open the new ones that might be coming online really, really soon,” he said.
The Market Square wading pool was quite busy over the weekend, having just reopened on Saturday amid sweltering hot and humid conditions.
The city has implemented certain safety measures and capacity limits in an effort to promote social distancing. Those using the pool can only do so for 45 minutes before having to get out and line up again.
There are plans to open more outdoor pools and splash pads in the coming weeks.
Guthrie said there is no one that wants these to be open more than himself, councillors and city staff.
“We want them to be open and enjoyed by everyone as much as we possibly can under the rules and regulations in place,” he said.
The city is urging residents to be kind to the staff as they work to restore city programs and services with COVID-19 guidelines in place.
They did say most people at the wading pool on Sunday followed the guidelines and several even thanked the employees for their work.
“We hope this was an isolated incident,” the city said in a statement.
As a result of the incident, the city said it is increasing security at the wading pool and the Lyon Leisure Pool which is expected to open on Saturday.
The suspect in Sunday’s coughing incident is described as six feet tall with a tanned/sunburned complexion and short blond hair in a brushcut style. He was wearing an orange and white short-sleeved polo and tan or grey shorts.
Anyone with information is asked to call Guelph police at 519-824-1212 ext. 7283. Anonymous tips can be left with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
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