The Toronto Police Service (TPS) will be enforcing Ontario’s Stay-at-Home order, but plans to target businesses that violate the measures, rather than individuals who are out in public.
Police said they will enforce the new order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), and will continue to enforce the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA).
TPS noted this approach is “consistent” with their enforcement of the previous emergency measures.
“This Stay-at-Home order is in place to help save lives and to protect our health care system by stopping the spread of this deadly virus,” said Toronto Police Chief James Ramer.
“I urge all Torontonians to please comply. Do not go out unless it’s for essential reasons.”
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Police will focus their enforcement efforts on restaurants and businesses that violate an order to close or that don’t comply with customer limits, they said.
Officers will also be primarily responding to calls for large gatherings, and warn that they will ticket groups of more than five people gathered outdoors.
“Officers can exercise their discretion in every situation,” Toronto Police noted. “But where there is evidence of non-compliance, they will issue tickets and summonses for individuals and businesses.”
The emergency orders do not grant police the power to enter a dwelling, or the authority to stop a vehicle for the sole purpose of checking compliance.
As well, people do not have to explain to an officer why they are out of their home, and workers are not required to have proof that they are travelling to or from their job.
However, if an officer has “reasonable and probable” suspicion that someone is violating the orders, they can ask the person to identify themselves in order to issue a ticket or summons.
If the individual refuses, they can be arrested and charged with obstructing a police officer.
The Stay-at-Home order went into effect on April 8 and will remain in place across Ontario for at least four weeks.
During that time, people must stay home and only go out for necessities, such as going to the grocery store, accessing health care, getting exercise, or going to work.
“COVID-19 is a matter of public health, but it is also a matter of public safety,” Ramer said.
“Everyone has a role and a responsibility to keep our communities safe. The message is clear – stay home.”
To date, Ontario has seen 382,152 COVID-19 cases and 7,531 virus-related deaths.