OPP highlighting new power to stop and question individuals, but other police forces say they won’t conduct random stops

Premier Doug Ford on April 16, 2021, announcing a two-week extension to the province's stay-at-home order, new police powers, and the upcoming closure of inter-provincial borders.

ONTARIO — While the OPP is acknowledging its new authority to stop and ask individuals and motorists for their addresses and the reasons they aren’t at home, it’s not immediately clear how actively the provincial force will exercise this power, and a number of police entities are explicitly stating this morning that they won’t be randomly stopping people. This includes the Ottawa Police Service, which says it “will not be conducting random stops” in a statement today. (See additional tweets at bottom of article.)

The new police power was announced yesterday as part of a suite of ramped-up lockdown restrictions imposed by the Ford government amid rising cases of COVID-19 and increased strain on the province’s intensive care beds.

For the first time during this pandemic, OPP officers will also close the provincial borders with Manitoba and Quebec, starting Monday.

“With our hospital system under significant pressure and the continued increase of COVID-19 variants, we are stepping up enforcement to ensure that people adhere to the Stay-at-Home order and follow public health measures,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones — responsible for police — at yesterday’s announcement. “This is a critical moment in Ontario’s response to this deadly virus, that’s why we are doing whatever it takes to stop the spread and protect our communities.”

As of today, the government has also:

  • Prohibited all outdoor social gatherings and organized public events, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone or a caregiver for any member of the household;
  • Closed all non-essential workplaces in the construction sector;
  • Reduced capacity limits to 25 per cent in all retail settings where in-store shopping is permitted. This includes supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies; and,
  • Closed all outdoor recreational amenities, such as golf courses, basketball courts, soccer fields, and playgrounds with limited exceptions.

And as of Monday, weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies will be limited to 10 people indoors or outdoors. Social gatherings associated with these services, such as receptions, are prohibited, except for members of the same household plus one other person from outside that household who lives alone. Drive-in services will be permitted.

Please see the full OPP press release below.

ORILLIA — The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) wants the public to be aware of actions being taken to help limit the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, including restrictions on interprovincial travel.

The Government of Ontario has announced further restrictions on outdoor activities and gatherings. As of Saturday, April 17 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time, outdoor gatherings are restricted to members of the same household only (plus one other person if that individual lives alone); in-person shopping is restricted to 25 per cent of building capacity; outdoor recreational facilities and non-essential construction sites will be closed. Effective Monday, April 19 at 12:01 a.m. ET, capacity at religious gatherings, weddings and funerals will be limited to 10 people.

The OPP will have members located at interprovincial points of entry by road to screen all vehicles beginning Monday, April 19, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. ET/CT-Manitoba time. Those not travelling for essential reasons will be refused entry. There are exceptions for work, medical care, transportation of goods and the exercising of Treaty rights for Indigenous persons.

Under the updated orders, police have the authority to ask individuals and motorists who are not at home their purpose for leaving home and to provide their home address.

The OPP urges everyone to comply with all restrictions. Although voluntary compliance is always preferred, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), Re-Opening Ontario Act (ROA) and federal Quarantine Act, there are consequences for individuals who choose to defy the emergency orders that are in force. The OPP will be informing the public of charges laid each day on its social media accounts. The public is reminded that individuals who fail to comply with the restrictions can be issued a minimum fine of $750. Those who obstruct an authority or individual from enforcing or complying with an order can receive a minimum fine of $1,000, and those who host parties or gatherings in violation of the regulations can face a maximum fine of $10,000 on conviction.

For all non-emergency police matters – including allegations of non-compliance – contact your municipal by-law office, call the OPP non-emergency number at 1-888-310-1122, or contact your local detachment.

The OPP continues to provide public safety services to the communities we serve and support the efforts of federal, provincial and local health authorities during this pandemic. We appreciate the public’s ongoing support of these measures.

See the clarifications on random stops issued by some other police forces, below.

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