Coronavirus: Peterborough police dealing with calls over suspected emergency order violations

The rules laid out by the Ontario government are pretty clear: maintain a physical distance of at least two metres and do not hold gatherings of five or more people during the state of emergency declared due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), police can fine anyone who violates the emergency order $750, or $880 when you factor in court surcharges.

Between March 17 and April 21, the Peterborough Police Service has dealt with 147 EMCPA-related calls.

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Out of those calls, there have been six charges and 36 warnings, according to police.

“We have people calling all the time about not only the gatherings of five or more but they see two people out together on a walk, and they think it’s the law they can’t be out on a walk together,” police Chief Scott Gilbert told the police services board via teleconference on Tuesday night.

The rules do not apply to families who live in the same home. Residents can go out for a walk with their kids or partner without having to keep a distance between them.

“Unfortunately, there is a bit of confusion about some of the numbers, and that comes about because the City of Toronto has their own bylaw on social distancing that two people can’t be closer than the two metres apart. Some of our own citizens, as well as other municipalities, think it applies to Peterborough, but it does not,” added Gilbert.

On Monday, Peterborough Public Health (PPH) enacted a provincial order enabling fines of up to $5,000 a day for anyone who fails to self-isolate during the pandemic.

Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, the health unit’s medical officer of health, issued the Class Section 22 order under the province’s Health Protection and Promotion Act. The order will target individuals who fail to self-isolate after they have been identified as being diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The order also applies to individuals who have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or have been tested for the coronavirus and are awaiting the results of a test. A person identified as a close contact of a confirmed case is also subject to the order.

Salvaterra, as the issuer of the order, can request the assistance of police and the courts to charge and issue a fine to a person who does not comply with the order.

As of Wednesday morning, Peterborough police say they have not received a request from Salvaterra to attend a residence.

Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has a similar order. To date, it has not had to contact the courts to request any fines be levied under this order.

Peterborough County OPP have not laid any EMCPA charges to date.

In a text message, Const. Joe Ayotte, the detachment’s media officer, tells Global News that PPH requested four residence checks last week on people that were to be in quarantine after travel. All were in compliance.

In an email to Global News on Wednesday morning, Sgt. Dave Murtha of Kawartha Lakes Police Service stated: “KLPS has not charged any person or business, but we have ‘educated’ countless people.”

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