Peterborough police and public health are enforcing COVID-19 compliance

Public can report non-compliance allegations at police non-emergency telephone numbers, do not call 911

Peterborough police car. (Photo: Peterborough Police Service)
Peterborough police car. (Photo: Peterborough Police Service)

The Peterborough County OPP, Peterborough Police Service, and Peterborough Public Health have issued a joint media release to remind the public that police are enforcing compliance with the Ontario government’s declaration of a state of emergency under the Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act, and to explain how the public should be reporting allegations of non-compliance to police.

On March 17, 2020, the Ontario government mandated the closure of all bars and restaurants (except for the provision of takeout and food delivery), facilities providing indoor recreational programs, public libraries, private schools, licensed child care centres, movie cinemas and theatres (including those offering live performances of music, dance and other art forms), and concert venues.

On March 23, 2020, the Ontario government expanded the declaration to order the closure of all businesses and organizations except those deemed as “essential workplaces” (see the list of essential workplaces).

On March 28, 2020, the Ontario government made a new emergency order under Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act that prohibits public events and social gatherings of more than five people, replacing the previous emergency order prohibiting organized public events of more than 50 people. Exceptions apply to private households with five people or more, child care centres supporting front-line health care workers and first responders (limit of 50 people), and funerals (limit of 10 people at a time).

To allow police to enforce compliance with Ontario’s state of emergency, Ontario’s Provincial Offences Act has been updated to include three offences with set fines.

There is a $750 fine for failure to comply with an order made during a declared emergency, a $1,000 fine for obstructing any person exercising a power in accordance with an order made during a declared emergency, and a $1,000 fine for obstructing any person performing a duty in accordance with an order made during a declared emergency. Corporations can also be fined $500,000 for non-compliance. Any of these fines can be applied on each day that an offence occurs or continues.

If you want to report an allegation of non-compliance, contact the Peterborough County OPP at 705-742-0401 (or the non-emergency line at 1-888-310-1122) or the Peterborough Police Service’s non-emergency line at 705-876-1122. 911 is for emergencies only; do not call 911 to report allegations of non-compliance.

On March 25, 2020, the Government of Canada invoked the Quarantine Act to require all travellers returning to Canada — with the exception of what the federal government is calling “essential workers” — to enter a mandatory 14-day period of isolation, regardless of whether any symptoms of COVID-19 are present.

For complaints related to a person not complying with the Quarantine Act, call Peterborough Public Health at 705-743-1000. Health units, and not police, are responsible for fielding and investigating these complaints.

Peterborough Public Health is also continuing to conduct surveillance and inspections of facilities to confirm compliance with closures or modified operations for restaurants and bars (i.e. take out or delivery services).

To date, public health inspectors have observed a high level of compliance in Peterborough, and encourage any premises permitted to remain open to implement strategies to prevent crowding and encourage physical distancing. Many such facilities have reduced hours in order to facilitate enhanced premises cleaning and disinfection.

Public health inspectors have also conducted site visits of local grocery stores to observe infection prevention and control measures and discuss best practices with owners and management. Improvements are continuing, and all stores are reminded to limit the number of shoppers to ensure that physical distancing can be maintained.

Peterborough Public Health is also encouraging the public to only go to the grocery store for essential needs, and to not go at all if you are required to be in self-isolation.

When you go grocery shopping, keep two metres away from others (grocery stores have placed floor markers at checkout to encourage physical distancing), avoid paying with cash (even if allowed; most stores only accept debit or credit card payments), and be efficient with your shopping (get in and get out).

Make sure the shopping cart or basket you use has been sanitized (ask store staff if you are not sure) and take advantage of any hand sanitizer the store makes available at the entrance. Make sure you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds when you get home (some people have even been showering after they return from shopping).

Galen Weston, executive chairman of Loblaws, recently issued a statement asking families and groups of friends to avoid grocery stores, and asked customers to refrain from joking about COVID-19 with other customers or employees.