New Ontario restrictions: Stay-at-home order extended, police given extra powers to 'strongly enforce' rules

New Ontario restrictions: Stay-at-home order extended, police given extra powers to 'strongly enforce' rules

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announce Friday that the provincial government will be extending the stay-at-home order for an additional two weeks, six weeks in total.

"The reality is, there are few options left," Ford said. "The difficult truth is, every public health measure we have left comes with a massive cost to people and their lives."

Effective Saturday, April 17, 2021:

  • Outdoor gatherings are limited to your immediate household only, but people who live alone can still join with one other household. All non-essential construction project are also being halted.

  • The province is restricting all outdoor recreational amenities, including golf courses, basketball courts, soccer fields and playgrounds, on the same date

  • Capacity in big-box retailers is being reduce further to 25 per cent capacity

Effective Monday, April 19, 2021:

  • Capacity at places of worship, weddings and funerals will be capped to maximum of 10 people indoors or outdoors, but drive-in services are permitted.

  • Check points will be introduced at all interprovincial borders, limiting access to border crossing between Ontario, and Manitoba and Quebec, with exceptions for work, medical care, transposition of goods or exercising Indigenous treaty rights.

What new powers will police have?

Ford said police and bylaw officers will have the authority to enforce public health measures for the duration of the stay-at-home order and restrictions will be "strongly enforced."

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones explained police will have the authority to require any individual who is not in a place of residence to provide their home address and their purpose for not being at home. Police can also stop a vehicle to inquire about why any individual has left their home.

The information from the Ontario government reads that effective Saturday, "police officers and other provincial offences officers will have the authority to require any individual to provide their home address and purpose for not being at their residence."

"In addition, police officers, special constables and First Nation Constables will have the authority to stop vehicles to inquire about an individual's reasons for leaving their home. This additional enforcement tool will only be in effect during the Stay-at-Home order and exclusively to enforce the Stay-at-Home order."

Jones said anyone who does not comply with police can get a $750 ticket.

When asked if Ontarians should call police or bylaw officials if their neighbours are breaking the rules, the solicitor general stressed that everyone has a "personal responsibility."

"I would hope that the vast majority of us would take that personal responsibility seriously," Jones said.

"I’m never going to encourage people to inundate the bylaw enforcement or police department with calls but if it means saving lives, then I think we have to think about what your social responsibilities are as an individual."

How Ontario will change vaccine rollout

The Ontario premier also announced that the province will be increasing vaccine supply in hotspots by 25 per cent, while he also said the provincial government is pressing the federal for more vaccine doses.

"We’re losing the battle between the variants and vaccine," Ford said.

The premier added that the "three-pronged approach" includes "limiting mobility, enforcing the rules and getting vaccines into arms."

How are Ontarians reacting?

Following the announcement form the Ford government, people in Ontario took to social media to respond to the latest move from the province, with a particular focus on the increased police power and a lack of piad sick leave supports.