Toronto police teams tasked with enforcing stay-at-home order lay 230 charges in 1st week of operation

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The enforcement teams were launched on April 22 to make sure people follow the provincial government's tightened stay-at-home order. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
The enforcement teams were launched on April 22 to make sure people follow the provincial government's tightened stay-at-home order. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

The Toronto police teams tasked with responding to large gatherings that violate Ontario's lockdown measures have attended more than 300 incidents and laid over 200 charges in their first week of operation, police say.

The enforcement teams were launched on April 22 to make sure people follow the provincial government's tightened stay-at-home order.

Officers from the 16 divisional teams across the city have since attended 315 incidents, including 105 calls reporting gatherings since Monday.

This resulted in 230 charges laid under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), Toronto police said in a statement Friday.

The new emergency order, which was imposed on April 8 for 4 weeks, has since been extended until May 20.

It prohibits any indoor or outdoor gathering with anyone outside of your household, with an exception allowing people who live alone to gather with one other household.

"We have an enforcement team in every division across the city and officers are dispersing large gatherings daily and laying charges against those who are ignoring the emergency order," said Toronto Police Service Insp. Matt Moyer.

While bylaw officers have responded to illegal gatherings since the onset of pandemic restrictions, these enforcement teams represent a greater effort to crack down on large illegal gatherings indoors and reduce transmission of the highly contagious coronavirus variants of concern.

Most gatherings at short-term rentals, closed restaurants

Following the strengthened stay-at-home order to stem Ontario's rising number of COVID-19 cases, Premier Doug Ford initially gave police new powers to arbitrarily stop people and question them about why they weren't home.

He walked back those measures the next day amid backlash from the public as well as police forces that said they would refuse to conduct the random stops.

Instead, Toronto police said they're focusing mostly on large indoor events being held at short-term rentals and in closed bars and restaurants.

"As we head in to the weekend, we are discouraging anyone who is thinking of attending or hosting a gathering, and reminding them that, if they do, they may very well expect the police in attendance as well," Moyer said.

"Please work with us to keep the city safe. Don't attend parties or large gatherings. Stay home and stay safe."

Police said while the city's downtown area has generated the majority of calls, the teams have been responding to reports across Toronto.