The order has been delivered, and now it’s up to Niagara’s police and bylaw officers to enforce it.
The province’s new stay-at-home order came into effect just after midnight on Thursday, requiring people to remain at home unless leaving for “essential trips” to access medical services, pick up groceries, exercise outdoors or go to work.
In multiple responses to questions from Niagara This Week about what enforcement of the order will look like across Niagara, “collaboration” was the keyword as municipalities, police, the Region and public health work together to hammer out details of how the stay-at-home order will be enforced.
The province has handed down additional power to police and bylaw officers, allowing for officers to disperse gatherings over the allowable limit of five people and to order temporary closures of premises in violation of the order.
The Niagara Regional Police Service has received “clarification and direction” from the province about changes to regulations and enforcement during what is now Ontario’s second state of emergency, communications manager Stephanie Sabourin said in an emailed response.
Sabourin did not provide specifics but said “there is no one correct answer” to what enforcement will look like because circumstances vary with each incident.
“When appropriate, [officers] will educate individuals on the legislation and the compliance requirements. When and where appropriate to do so, the legislation will be enforced with fines and penalties,” Sabourin said.
“The service is working diligently to ensure our members understand their responsibilities and the limitations of their authority to enforce this order,” Sabourin said, without providing specific detail on what those responsibilities or limitations are.