Cape Breton Regional Police increase enforcement during COVID-19 pandemic

Cape Breton Regional Police were kept busy over the weekend, as more than 50 calls came in for COVID-19 related inquiries on Sunday alone.

Acting Chief Robert Walsh said over the past few weeks, almost 200 calls have come in and four summary offence tickets have been issued.

He said two tickets were handed out on Sunday to a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old from Glace Bay, N.S., who were in a car parked at John Bernard Croak Park in Glace Bay. He said the teens were not from the same household.

"We started with education and moved toward warnings. Now we have started issuing charges," said Walsh.

"Now, unfortunately, we're going to have to increase enforcement efforts because there are still some who are just not complying."

Walsh said the reckless few are taking officers away from other important policing duties.

There are almost 300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.

CBC

Since the state of emergency was declared in Nova Scotia on March 22, Walsh said many calls have come in related to citizens asking for clarity on social distancing and gathering limits.

Walsh said many have asked questions around who can be permitted in vehicles at any given time.

"A lot of it is left up to the discretion of police officers," he said. "The order by the chief medical officer says all persons in Nova Scotia must maintain social distancing of two metres at any time."

However, Walsh said this does not apply to people who live in the same household.

He said all travel should be limited, and only one person per household should be out getting essential supplies.

Provincial chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang echoed those comments Monday. He said essential trips like going to the pharmacy or out for groceries are OK and people should try to limit those trips to once a week, but people should not be driving for social reasons.

Inquiries from businesses, public

Walsh said some calls coming in during the pandemic are from concerned workers at businesses saying customers or other employees are not obeying public health guidelines. He said police are working diligently with managers to ensure workers and patrons are kept safe.

No "hotspots" were identified by Walsh. He said police were called to Dominion Beach in Dominion, N.S., over the weekend, but most members of the public are using good judgment.

With a long weekend coming up, police are reminding residents to avoid taking leisurely drives and to not host any social gatherings.

Although people are coping well, Walsh said there is anxiety in the community. He said front-line officers are working to get support for the people who need it.

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