The City of Burlington says it will not allow vehicle parades and processions of more than five vehicles to continue, saying they violate provincial emergency measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

“These drive-by celebrations have a small but powerful, positive influence on the participants, the recipients as well as the surrounding neighbourhoods and we need to find a way to support them in a controlled and legal manner,” the city said in a statement issued Thursday.

“Some of these have grown significantly in size, duration and frequency.”

All over Ontario and much of the rest of the world, vehicle processions and parades have been used as a way for members of the public to show support for frontline healthcare workers in hospitals and long-term care homes.

They’ve also been used to celebrate birthdays and other milestones while maintain physical distance for all those involved by driving past someone’s home instead of going inside.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward told CP24 she has participated in a number of processions, mostly recently a large one with more than 150 vehicles over the past weekend.

She said it became clear to her last weekend the parades raised the risk of possible infection.

“People were coming out and gathering on the street – as I participated in it I realized some of the challenges,” she said.

She stressed the guidelines are about safety.

“It’s not that we want to ban parades – we want them to be managed in an appropriate way.”

Several large ones have occurred along Toronto’s “hospital row” on University Avenue and notably during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont., where at several points a large portion of the town drove by to support the nurses and support workers inside the facility.

“As such an organized public event in the form of vehicle parades for birthdays or other celebrations of more than five people who are not members of a single household are prohibited (by provincial emergency regulation 52/20),” the city says.

Meanwhile, the city’s same statement ordering no more parades at the same time acknowledges that first responders participate in much the same practice on the first of each month, in front of Joseph Brant Hospital and likely will continue to do so.

The city and Halton Region Public Health advise that anyone planning a vehicle parade in the region keep it to close friends or immediate family and no more than five cars at a time, warn the people in the location they’re driving to in advance, stay in their vehicle for the entire duration of the drive and make sure any decorations are properly fixed to their car so they don’t fall off.

They also suggest those receiving the parade stay in their homes and not get within two metres of any neighbours congregating outside.

“Overall Halton Region Public Health does not encourage these types of large events right now as they may increase opportunities for transmission of disease and make it difficult for individuals to appropriately follow physical distancing measures. Virtual celebrations via video-conferencing could be encouraged instead.”

Asked Friday about the ban, Toronto Mayor John Tory said he dislikes commenting on the actions of another GTA mayor, but said no similar edict would be made in Toronto.

“It’s not anything I am going to be turning my attention to for even two minutes today or any other day I don’t think but everyone has got to do their own thing in terms of what Burlington officials feel is right for Burlington. I can’t imagine it’s a big problem but maybe it is.”