(Toronto) A home support order went into effect Thursday in Ontario, but the government said police would not have the power to randomly stop bystanders on the street to ensure compliance with the rules.
Posted January 14, 2021 4:49 PM
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The Canadian Press
The measure, put in place to reduce the spike in COVID-19 cases, means Ontarians should only venture outside for essential purposes like health care, food and exercise.
A spokesperson for Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said the executive order did not give police the power to enter homes or stop vehicles just to check if instructions are being followed. Residents who come to work are also not required to have a certificate from their employer.
“Being outside alone is not sufficient proof of a stay-at-home order violation,” spokesman Stephen Warner said.
Critics have pointed to the measure’s lack of clarity, but Premier Doug Ford has asked citizens to use their “best judgment” to decide whether or not to leave their homes.
Several police forces said they were still reviewing the details of the decree. The province sent the police a note on the execution of the measure, but refused to make it public.
A spokeswoman for Peel Regional Police said the service plans to respond to complaints about violations of the decree, but would not stop drivers and pedestrians to see where they are going.
“It will essentially be about answering calls,” Constable Sarah Patten said in a statement.
The Toronto police chief said his organization would disclose more details later and asked residents to do their part and stay home.
The government issued an emergency alert on cellphones, radios and televisions Thursday morning to let residents know the decree was in effect.
The message asks people to leave their homes only for essential purposes. However, the province has suggested that there is no single definition of what is “essential” because the circumstances are different for everyone.
The leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in Ontario, Andrea Horwath, called the order a “half-measure” that caused confusion.
In Toronto, Kristen Bones was on an outdoor rink exercising at noon on the first day of the new measure, and she reported on outstanding issues.
“You really don’t know what the restrictions are. It’s a bit confusing for us, ”she said.
Mme Bones said the lack of clarity was also difficult for her son, who is an only child, and wants to hang out with his small group of friends.
“My son is a social child, he is an active child, and they kind of took everything away from them,” she said.
Inspections in stores
Inspectors from the Ontario Ministry of Labor will conduct a blitz campaign to inspect big box stores to enforce public health rules.
The province’s labor minister said 50 inspectors will visit stores in Toronto, Hamilton, Peel Region, York Region and Durham Region.
Monte McNaughton added that inspectors would have the power to issue fines of up to $ 750 to store supervisors, workers or customers if they do not follow public health rules.
He said they would work to ensure that employees and customers wear masks, maintain appropriate physical distance and follow safety guidelines.
Mr McNaughton said inspectors would also have the power to temporarily close premises and disperse groups of more than five people.
Ontario reported 3,326 new cases of COVID-19 and 62 more deaths from the virus on Thursday.
Suspension of residential evictions
Ontario has also temporarily suspended residential evictions during the period of the emergency order.
The provincial minister of municipal affairs explained that the break will allow people to remain safely in their homes while the stay-at-home decree is in place.
This is the second time the province has suspended residential evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Landlord and Tenant Board will continue to hear eviction requests and issue orders, but enforcement of eviction orders will be postponed, except in urgent situations – such as illegal activity.
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