Ontario just gave police new powers to enforce social distancing

Police officers in Ontario have been given temporary powers to enforce rules surrounding social distancing enacted by the government to help slow the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus.

Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), police, First Nations constables, special constables and municipal by-law enforcement officers have been given authority to enforce special measures while the province remains in a state of emergency until at least April 14.

Residents of Ontario must now identify ourselves to police officers no matter what or face $750 fine. #Coronavirusontario

— Niko Strong (@GreenMcLovin) April 1, 2020

This includes obtaining identifying information and issuing fines for non-compliance of up to $750.

“It is essential that measures are in place to allow provincial offences officers to lawfully require an individual to disclose their correct name, date of birth and address in order to protect our communities,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones in a statement.

“By providing provincial offences officers with this temporary power to obtain identifying information under the EMCPA, they will be able to enforce emergency orders during these extraordinary times.”

The emergency orders in place include closing non-essential businesses, limiting gatherings to no more than five people, closing public and private outdoor recreational facilities and prohibiting price gouging.

So my sister just reported than an Ontario police officer issued 2 tickets, at $880 each, to a couple out driving in a car. Boyfriend and girlfriend, as it turns out, but not cohabiting – therefore a breach of law.

— Don Johnston (@DonJohn43470052) April 1, 2020

Failure to comply with the measures can result in prison or a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual and corporate directors fined up to $500,000.

Businesses can face a fine of up to $10 million.

The temporary measure is meant to “ensure the safety and well-being of Ontarians,” said Jones.

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