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Law enforcement to ramp up province-wide: 'Bad actors will get fined'

Last Updated Jan 13, 2021 at 11:30 pm EDT

As part of a long list of COVID-19 restrictions announced by the province on Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford says local and provincial law enforcement will be ramped up as part of Ontario’s stay-at-home order.

With these stringent restrictions set to begin on Thursday at 12:01 a.m., Ford says while he realizes the stay-at-home is a drastic measure, “bad actors” that are caught breaking the rules will be fined.

“Everyone must stay home to save lives. I couldn’t be any clearer,” he said.

RELATED: COVID-19 restrictions list: What they are and what they mean moving forward

“Enforcement and inspections will increase. Provincial and local police, bylaw officers, [and] workplace inspectors will enforce these new measures. Under the declaration, they will have powers to disperse people and issue tickets to bad actors.”

Anyone caught violating the stay-at-home orders could face a fine and persecution under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA). Among the stiffer penalties, Ontarians found breaking the rules could spend up to a year in jail.

680 NEWS has learned what these fines could look like as individuals who “fail to comply” with a stay-at-home order could be ticketed $750. Other fines are in the $1,000 range.

Ford also addressed big box stores, saying he has seen the crazy lineups, announcing a workplace inspection blitz of these shops in the coming days.

“I promise you if we find any issues, there will be consequences. We will come down hard on these big box stores if we have to,” Ford assured.

“This enforcement will continue for as long as necessary… the success of these measures will ultimately depend on you.”

As part of Ontario’s new restrictions, all non-essential retail stores – such as hardware stores, liquor retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery must open and operate at 7 a.m. and close by 8 p.m.

RELATED: Latest COVID-19 modelling shows critical situation in LTC homes, mortality rate could double

Solicitor general Sylvia Jones said restrictions and orders must be followed.

“If individuals, employees, and corporations in retail settings are found not complying with an order, enforcement personnel have the authority to issue a fine,” she said.

“All provincial offences officers also have the authority to disperse crowds indoors as well as outdoors.”

As an example, the solicitor general says if a group of more than five people from a different household gather outdoors, they can be asked to leave.

“Let me be clear. If people are found not complying with these orders, they will be subject to fines and persecution. Penalities include up to a year in jail,” Jones added.

The new hours do not apply grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.

Opposition leader Andrea Horwath weighed in on the Ford government’s latest round of new restrictions, saying these measures are lacking.

“There is nothing to stop people from continuing to shop at big box stores, for example,” the NDP leader said.

“No changes there whatsoever. In terms of restricting what type of shopping can be done at those locations, it’s really clear that employers are going to decide what is and isn’t essential work.”

Toronto’s Mayor, John Tory, has said he would like to see more businesses closed, including big-box stores, so that people have fewer reasons to leave their homes.

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