Regina police have issued more COVID-19 tickets this month than all of 2020

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The Regina Police Service (RPS) says it has handed out more COVID-19 tickets in the city so far in January than all of last year.

In an email Thursday, RPS spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich said there had been 17 total COVID-19 tickets, each worth $2,800, issued in Regina as of Jan. 27. Nine of them were issued in January.

RPS Sup. Darcy Koch said he felt the education period was good for residents of Regina, but with the health orders in place for nearly a year, guidance from the Premier, the health authority and the chief medical health officer points to enforcement.

"The orders are out there for all of our safety and we all want to come out of this, in terms of getting everyone healthy and protecting those that are most vulnerable," Koch said.

"We will take every situation that occurs on its own merits. If violations are observed or reported to us, we have the authority to ticket.

The first ticket of this year was issued New Year's Day and the most recent was on Jan. 24.

"I will emphasize that the primary goal was and continues to be compliance with the Public Health Orders and education," Popowich wrote in Thursday's email.

"But there are some cases where enforcement is the appropriate action. A ticket is the lesser of the enforcement actions but it could be arrest and detention in extreme cases."

Popowich said she had previously provided reporters with an "informal count" of tickets issued, but that count had been four short. She said she was informed on Wednesday about the four missed tickets and attributed the error in part to the time police and the Saskatchewan Health Authority take in investigating alleged breaches of the public health orders.

"Sometimes serving the ticket occurs a week after the alleged breach and perhaps feels like old news to the officer serving the ticket," she wrote.

Saskatoon police said they have issued four tickets related to public health order violations so far in 2021, compared to 15 in 2020.

A brief statement said officers had responded to 1,425 calls regarding alleged breaches of the public health orders since the pandemic started.

Those calls were made to the general police line, not the COVID-19 hotline established by the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency.

The Public Safety Agency said it could not provide the number of calls to the COVID-19 hotline until Monday.

Sask. RCMP said there were 79 charges related to COVID-19 public health order violations from March 2020 to Jan. 14, 2021.

The charges broke down as follows:

  • COVID related complaints: 11.

  • Not isolating/quarantine complaints: 42.

  • Large gathering complaints: 22.

  • Masking complaints: four.

The Sask. RCMP statement said there were 4,312 complaints where police were either the primary responder or involved alongside the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

The Prince Albert Police Service did not respond to a request for information relating to COVID-19 charges or calls regarding alleged breaches of the public health order.