Premier Doug Ford warns residents could be fined big bucks if they don’t follow the stay at home order announced on Tuesday.
Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the Ontario government will give authority to all enforcement and provincial offence officers, which includes the Ontario Provincial Police, bylaw officers, local police forces, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to residents that do not follow the stay at home order set in place.
Tickets will also be issued to those not wearing masks or face covering indoors as well as retail operators and companies who do not enforce the rules.
According to the provincial government, those who decide not to abide by orders will be subject to set fines and/or face prosecution under both the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act (ROA) and Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA).
Under both acts, fines are subject up to $100,000 and one-year imprisonment, $500,000 for individuals in charge of a business and up to one year in jail.
Corporations that do not follow rules could also face a fine of up to $10,000,000.
As of January 14, the Provincial Offences Act has been updated to include new offences with a minimum fine of $750.
The EMCPA added new fines which would, in turn, affect individuals and corporations.
For both acts, the maximum fine of the new additions is set to $1,000.
On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford announced the state of emergency will last for at least 28 days.
The stay at home order will be effective Thursday, January 14 at 12:01 am. It means everyone must stay home and only go out for essential trips, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing healthcare services, for exercise or for essential work.
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“Extraordinary action is needed to protect the health and safety of Ontarians as we deal with this growing crisis,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones in a release.
“Our government is providing police and bylaw officers with the tools, and the authority, they need to enforce these critical restrictions and protect public health.”
According to the provincial government, “all enforcement personnel will also have the authority to temporarily close a premise and disperse individuals who are in contravention of an order and will be able to disperse people who are gathering, regardless whether a premise has been closed or remains open such as a park or house.”
The Toronto Police Service issued a release on Thursday, stating they will enforce both acts, however, their power is limited as the order does not give them the ability to enter dwellings or authority to stop cars for the purpose of checking if the order is being followed.
According to police, individuals are not obligated to state why they are not home or why they are outside and “workers are also not required to have proof from their employer that they are travelling to or from their workplace.”