Individuals, businesses that defy emergency orders could be fined, OPP says

WINDSOR, ONTARIO, CANADA - FEBRUARY 28: Ontario Provincial Police vehicle on February 28, 2015 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

People and businesses found breaking the new social distancing rules will be fined, Ontario Provincial Police said Friday.

Individuals could be fined up to $1,000 while corporations could face fines of up to $500,000, OPP said in a news release.

City, provincial and federal governments have been implementing measures such as travel restrictions, social distancing protocols and business closures to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

But while the majority of people and businesses have been observing the social distancing protocols, officials say there are others who continue to ignore them.

"Although voluntary compliance is always preferred, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), there are consequences for individuals and businesses that choose to defy the Act while it is in force," OPP said.

Under emergency legislation declared this week, all gatherings of 50 people or more are prohibited and a range of businesses and organizations are not allowed to open in Ontario, including: daycares, concert venues, libraries, indoor recreation programs, private schools, movie theatres as well as bars and restaurants, except those that provide drive-thru, delivery or take-out options.

All organized public events of over 50 people are also prohibited, including parades, events and communal services within places of worship. The orders remain in place until March 31, 2020, but could be extended.