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COVID-19: The Toronto Police Service to launch dedicated enforcement teams in each Division to focus on large gatherings



Broadcast time: 17:50
Date: Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Unit: Corporate Communications
Phone: 416-808-7100

On April 16, 2021, the Government of Ontario announced additional restrictions and a two-week extension of the provincial lockdown and Stay-at-Home Order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The order requires everyone to remain at home except for specified purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely.

Consistent with our approach to earlier emergency measures, the Toronto Police Service will enforce this order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) and the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA), in partnership with Toronto Public Health and Toronto’s bylaw enforcement officers at the Municipal Licensing and Standards unit.

Chief James Ramer said, “We are at a critical stage of this pandemic. COVID-19 is now a matter of public health and public safety. The Toronto Police Service will enforce the provincial orders and will work with the city’s bylaw officers and Toronto Public Health to enforce the measures that will help slow the rapid spread of COVID-19 that is putting public safety at risk.”

He continued, “The Service will have a dedicated enforcement team in each Division across the city to respond to reports of large gatherings which jeopardize the health and safety of our community. I again urge all Torontonians to please comply with the Stay-at-Home order. Let’s work together to stop the rapid growth in cases and relieve the pressure on our health care system.”

What’s New:

The Service is supporting the extended emergency measures with dedicated enforcement teams in all sixteen divisions whose primary function will be to respond to large gatherings in both indoor and outdoor settings. The divisional teams will be coordinated from a central command allowing them to be deployed across divisional boundaries if required.

“Our divisional teams will focus on large gatherings that fail to comply with the emergency orders, with a particular focus on indoor gatherings such as parties at short-term rentals or at bars and restaurants,” said Staff Superintendent Randy Carter, who is overseeing the Service’s enforcement action. “Everyone must do their part to protect our health and safety, and for police that means continuing to enforce equitably and effectively.”

What to Expect:

The new enforcement approach begins tomorrow, April 22, 2021 at 5 p.m.

There is no change to police powers. The Toronto Police Service will not be conducting random stops of people or cars.

In addition, individuals are not compelled to explain why they are out of their residence, nor is being outside evidence of a failure to comply with the emergency order.

Workers are also not required to have proof from their employer that they are traveling to or from their workplace.

The Service’s enforcement measures will also not apply to vulnerable people in encampments or those experiencing homelessness.

No element of any order provides the police with the power to enter dwellings for the singular purpose of checking compliance with the Stay-At-Home order. However, officers can enter a property if they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe there is non-compliance, such as when investigating a complaint of a loud party.

Officers may exercise their discretion in every situation and where there is evidence of non-compliance, they will issue tickets and summonses for individuals and businesses.

The public is reminded that when an officer has reason to suspect that an individual may be participating in a prohibited gathering, they are permitted to ask the person to identify themselves in order to issue a ticket or summons. If the person refuses to identify themselves for this purpose, they can be arrested and in some cases can be charged with obstructing a police officer.

The regulations under the province’s Stay-at-Home order can be found here.