OPP: officers will not arbitrarily stop people to enforce stay-at-home order

Police will focus on public complaints, outdoor gatherings, non-compliance in businesses/restaurants

WELLINGTON COUNTY – OPP officers will not arbitrarily stop vehicles or visit homes to verify compliance with the provincial stay-at-home order issued this week, nor will they require proof of essential work.

Instead, police will focus on non-compliance in businesses and restaurants, complaints from the public and outdoor gatherings of more than five people.

“[The OPP] is requesting that Ontarians voluntarily comply with the new stay-at-home order to limit mobility outside their homes, except for essential reasons, to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” states a Jan. 15 press release issued by provincial media relations coordinator Staff Sergeant Carolle Dionne.

However, OPP officers, as well as local municipal bylaw officers, can disperse and ticket individuals that are not in compliance.

That includes indoor gatherings involving people who don’t live together, outdoor gatherings of more than five people who don’t live together and people who refuse to wear a mask or face covering indoors.

Fines are $750 for failing to comply with an order and/or $1,000 for preventing others (including individuals, employees or other workers) from following an order.

Maximum fines are up $100,000 for individuals and $10 million for a corporation.

“Failure to follow the rules can result in prosecution or jail time,” Dionne stated.

Police are also reminding residents that officers can ask people to identify themselves if police have reasonable grounds to believe they are violating the restrictions.

The OPP is asking that 9-1-1 be used for emergencies only and is directing those with questions about the stay-at-home order to visit covid-19.ontario.ca/zones-and-restrictions.

For non-emergencies, including allegations of non-compliance with the provincial order, contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122.

Guelph Police

On Jan. 14, Guelph Police issued a statement outlining a policy similar to that of the OPP.

“While we have new tools to enforce provincial orders, we know people may be unaware or confused about what is or isn’t permitted,” states the release from Guelph Police.

“Local police and bylaw officers are hoping people will cooperate voluntarily, but are prepared to issue fines as appropriate.”

Police stressed they “want people to get out for work, groceries, healthcare and exercise as needed.

“There is no requirement for everyone to be home at a certain time of day.”

Like the OPP, Guelph officials stressed police and bylaw officers may disperse crowds, but “will not randomly stop people while they’re out driving, walking, running, cycling, skating, etc.”