In a media statement issued on Thursday, Toronto Police offered some clarity on how it will be enforcing the province’s stay-at-home orders. Officers will be focusing on non-compliant businesses and will use their discretion when ticketing individuals for non-compliance, police said.
“Officers will focus enforcement efforts on restaurants and businesses not in compliance with closure orders and/or customer limits; responding to complaint calls for gatherings and officers will disperse and ticket gatherings of more than five people outdoors,” the statement said.
The police do not have the power to enter homes nor the authority to stop a vehicle unless they have “reasonable and probable grounds” that an individual has violated the order, according to the official news release.
“No element of any order provides the police with either the power to enter dwellings nor the authority to stop a vehicle for the singular purpose of checking compliance with the stay-at-home order,” the statement read.
“In addition, individuals are not compelled to explain why they are out of their residence, nor is being outside prima facie evidence of a failure to comply with the stay at home order. Workers are also not required to have proof from their employer that they are travelling to or from their workplace.
“Officers can exercise discretion in every situation,” said Deputy Chief Myron Demkiw. “But, where there is evidence of non-compliance, officers will be ticketing and issuing summonses for individuals and businesses.”
“The public is reminded that only when an officer has reasonable and probable grounds to suspect someone has violated one of the orders under the two Acts, they may ask the person to identify themselves in order to issue a ticket or summons. If the person refuses to identify themselves for this purpose, they can be arrested and charged with obstructing a police officer.”
However the message from the Toronto Police Service is to “stay home and stay safe“.
“This is no longer strictly a public health issue, it is a matter of public safety,” said Deputy Chief Demkiw. “We each have a personal responsibility to limit our travel to essential reasons only to slow the spread of COVID-19 and try to keep our families and communities safe and support our hospitals and healthcare workers.”
The Toronto police is working with its partners at the City of Toronto, including Toronto Public Health, to determine how the regulations for large gatherings will apply to City-owned outdoor spaces such as skating rinks and toboggan hills.
On Tuesday, the Ontario government declared a second provincial emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) and also issued a new stay-at-home order to limit mobility and reduce the number of daily contacts with those outside their immediate household. The order is requiring everyone to remain in their homes with exceptions under certain categories including for groceries, medical, pharmacy, exercise or for work that cannot be done remotely.
The Toronto Police Service will enforce this new order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) in addition to continued enforcement of the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) in partnership with the City of Toronto.