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Oct. 15, 2021 | Friday
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Scaled-down Rotary Holiday House Tours cancelled due to COVID
An interior shot of one of the rooms in the McArthur Estate. (Richard Harley/File)

This year’s already pared down version of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Rotary Club's annual holiday house tours has been cancelled.

The last-minute decision was made this week after event organizers further examined the Ontario government’s COVID-19 regulations, which placed Niagara-on-the-Lake in the orange-restrict level along with the rest of the Niagara region on Nov.16.

All refunds have been made through Eventbrite, where tickets were initially purchased, the Rotary Club said.

Lorna Penman, chair of the NOTL Rotary’s Holiday House Tours, said the decision to cancel wasn’t made lightly.

“It just came to light that we just couldn’t do it. It was against COVID restrictions,” Penman said.

She said there was a bit of a “grey area” in the regulations regarding the event. Had the tour been held in a staffed business or facility, it would likely have been able to go on as planned, with strict adherence to COVID regulations.

The provincial government’s COVID response framework states limits for organized public events and gatherings in staffed businesses and facilities are 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors under the orange-restrict level. Those are the limits Penman said the NOTL Rotary planned for.

But because the tours were to be held on a private residence at the McArthur Estate on John Street, Penman said the limit for permitted functions is lower.

Limits for functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, barbeques or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, or parks are 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors.

“It was just a bit of a grey area that was just brought to our attention at the last minute. It’s just one of these things,” she said.

She said the decision to cancel was “very upsetting” for everyone involved, but it was necessary.

“The owners are devastated. Brenda and Blair McArthur and all the staff worked so hard to make the place absolutely beautiful. And we had it all worked out, all the COVID restrictions, etc.,” she said.

The fact that many ticketholders were possibly coming from locked down areas also played a part in the decision to cancel, Penman said.

“One of the other reasons that we thought long and hard about this cancellation is because a lot of people were coming from locked down areas, right into Niagara-on-the-Lake,” she said.

Rotary fundraising may be at an all-time low this year with COVID-19, but spirits are high as the group carries on with its other holiday fundraising plans this holiday season.

The silent auction will take place every day except Sundays from Dec. 4 to 12, at Regal Florist and Garden Centre, 1616 Niagara Stone Rd. in Virgil.

And the Ho Ho Ho! Holiday House Totes are still available for sale at niagaraonthelakerotary.ca.

Penman said donations are always appreciated so the service club can continue supporting the local and international communities.

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