Local police forces say they will not randomly stop people

Changes to Ontario's new restrictions could be coming soon

The pandemic restrictions imposed by Canada's most populous province immediately ran into opposition as police departments insisted they wouldn't use new powers to randomly stop pedestrians or motorists and health experts complained the rules focus on outdoor activities rather than more unsafe indoor settings.

Several municipal police forces across the province, including the Ottawa Police Service, said Friday and Saturday that they would not be conducting "random" stops of pedestrians or drivers to enforce the stay-at-home order.

On Friday (April 16), the provincial government announced it was giving police officers and other provincial offences officers enhanced authority to require any person to provide their home address and goal for not being at their residence, and to stop vehicles to inquire about a person's reasons for leaving their home.

Give police and provincial offences officers the power to question people gathered in public groups.

In a tweet published Saturday morning, Toronto police said they would opt out of the new enforcement. "Instead, he's recklessly chosen policing over public health - a move that will needlessly target racialized Ontarians who are already shouldering a disproportionate share of the pandemic's negative impact", Del Duca said.

"I personally, as a health worker in this community experience this distress", said Dr. Javeed Sukhera.

The Ontario government announced Friday afternoon that police in the province would have the authority to stop anyone who is outdoors and demand their address and a reason why they were outside.

"Let's be very real here: We are not going to police our way out of the pandemic", he said.

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Regarding the new police and bylaw powers, Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman told BarrieToday he has not yet discussed the plan with the local police officials.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the announcement today during his virtual press conference, which was delayed numerous times.

Other measures announced Friday include more restrictions on outdoor gatherings and non-essential construction projects.

St. Thomas police said Saturday its officers will not stop people at random.

While violating restrictions can carry a $750 fine, failure to provide police with requested information can result in criminal charges, according to the province's association of police chiefs.

Effective 12:01 am, Monday, April 19, capacity at religious gatherings, weddings, and funerals will be limited to 10 people.

- Reduced capacity in big-box stores to 25 percent.

"We will have a presence at the interprovincial borders for Manitoba and Quebec and we will be ensuring that travel for non-Ontario residents trying to enter Ontario is essential", said Thomas Carrique, Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police.

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