TORONTO – A stay at home order went into effect Thursday in Ontario, but the government said police did not have the authority to randomly stop residents on the street to ensure compliance to ensure the regulations

The measure put in place to lower rising COVID-19 rates means Ontarians are only allowed to stay for essential purposes such as health care, diet and exercise

A spokesman for Attorney General Sylvia Jones said the order does not give police power to enter homes or stop vehicles just to verify that the measure is being followed.Residents traveling to work do not need to provide proof of their bosses either submit that they do this

“Just being outside is not sufficient evidence of non-compliance with the stay-at-home order,” said spokesman Stephen Warner

Critics have called the order unclear, but Premier Doug Ford has asked residents to use the best of their ability to decide whether to go out

Several police officers said they were still reviewing the details of the measure on Thursday. The province sent a memo enforcing the order to police forces but refused to make it public

A spokesman for officers confirmed by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police will not only prevent people from asking about the order at home

“When people understand that our officers aren’t going to look for people who happen to be like me when I walk my dog, they’ll feel a lot better,” said Joe Couto

“Just get in their car and go to the grocery store and wonder if they’ll see the lights in their back windows is not going to happen”

A spokeswoman for the Peel Regional Police said the service planned to respond to complaints of regulation violations, but not preventing drivers and pedestrians from seeing where they were going

“It will mostly respond to calls,” Const Sarah Patten said in a statement

Toronto Police said officials would focus enforcement efforts on restaurants and businesses that appear to be violating shutdown orders or customer limits, as well as social gatherings

“Officers can exercise discretion in any situation,” said deputy chief Myron Demkiw in a statement. “However, if there are indications of violations, officers will issue tickets and subpoenas for individuals and companies”

The government issued an emergency alert on cellphones, radios and televisions Thursday morning, notifying residents that the order was in effect

The message asked people to leave their homes only for essential purposes, however, the province has said that there is no hard and fast definition of what is “essential” as everyone has their own particular circumstances

“We cannot be successful if the Ford government continues to hold back meaningful assistance and instead just offer a home order filled with conflicting gaps and exceptions,” she said

In Toronto, Kristen Bones was at an outdoor ice rink for lunch on the first day of ordering and said she was still unsure of the new move

“You really don’t know what the restrictions are. This is a bit confusing for us,” she said

Adeel Haider, who works from home in Mississauga, Ont, said the new stay at home order is “too little late”

Ontario’s chief health officer said the stay at home order needs to be put in place because some people are still not following public health rules

“We are taking steps to ask our peace officers, who have more powers, to disperse outside of congregations, impose fines and take appropriate action,” he said

“I really hope we don’t have to, I’d rather people take it seriously”

Meanwhile, the government said it had scheduled a flash of inspection of big box retailers over the weekend to make sure they were complying with public health regulations

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Ongoing construction projects in Ontario were completed, new projects were suspended according to new rules

Secretary of Labor Monte McNaughton said 50 inspectors would visit stores in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and get permission to issue tickets to business customers for the first time

“Inspectors will now also have greater powers,” he said. “We’re not trying to punish anyone, but cases are still on the rise. We all need to do better”

McNaughton said the inspectors will have the authority to issue tickets worth up to $ 750 to anyone who fails to comply with public health regulations, including shop overseers, workers and customers

He said they will focus on making sure employees and customers wear masks, maintain physical distance, and follow safety guidelines

Inspectors will also have the power to temporarily close a building and disperse groups of more than five people, he said

The province’s tougher measures and the stay-at-home order were announced on Tuesday when the government simultaneously declared a 28-day state of emergency, the second in the pandemic

This came after dire forecasts for COVID-19 indicated that the health system could be overwhelmed if cases continue to increase at current rates

Ontario reported Thursday 3326 new cases of COVID-19 and 62 more deaths related to the virus

Health Secretary Christine Elliott said there were 968 new cases in Toronto, 572 in the Peel Region and 357 in the York Region

A spokesman for the provincial attorney general said the new orders do not allow police to enter homes to check compliance, nor can officials run over drivers or ask pedestrians where they are going

“Just being outside is not sufficient evidence of non-compliance with the stay-at-home order,” said Stephen Warner

“Employees also do not need to provide evidence from their employer that they are traveling to or from their workplace”

The officers certified by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police will not only stop people from asking for the stay-at-home instructions

“Individuals cannot be forced to explain why they are not at home,” said spokesman Joe Couto

“When people understand that our officers aren’t looking for people who happen to be as out there as I am when I’m walking my dog, they’ll feel much better about getting in their car and heading to the grocery store going and wondering if they’ll see the lights in their back windows won’t happen ”

“Enforcement is an option when responding to order-related calls and / or public gatherings,” Const Sarah Patten said in an email

“However, each service call is assessed individually and the appropriate measures are taken for each”

“One of the main reasons is that we have a lot to do,” said Couto. “Besides having to get this through, we still have to prevent crime, we still have to fight crime when it happens. Our officials are pretty busy – we’re not looking for more business ”

“I’m talking about people who gather in a parking lot, for example, and suddenly 20 people are standing around the car Our cops will go and just say, ‘Why are we gathering here? ‘”

Couto said the new rules allow the officer’s discretion. You could just tell a gathering of seven or ten people to break up and go home

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Order Details for Staying Home in Ontario

World News – CA – According to the Ontario government, police cannot randomly stop people staying at home