Peterborough Public Health is working with police to help monitor people and businesses that are complying with federal and provincial laws invoked to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In a joint release issued Friday morning, the Peterborough Police Service, Peterborough County OPP and Peterborough Public Health say they have received calls from the public asking them to investigate individuals, businesses and institutions allegedly not complying with Ontario’s order for all non-essential services to close under the Emergency Measures and Civil Protect Act (EMCPA).
Officials have also been asked to investigate individuals suspected of not complying with the Quarantine Act, which the federal government invoked on March 25. Under the act, all travellers returning to Canada — with the exception of “essential workers” — must enter a mandatory 14-day period of isolation, regardless of whether they have any symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19.
Peterborough Police Service Chief Scott Gilbert says officers will consult with Peterborough Public Health to “seek some direction” regarding reports of travellers who are not in compliance with the act.
“Our services are awaiting more specific information on the rollout of this act,” the municipal police service said.
Gilbert noted that officers have investigated a couple of furniture stores, but those businesses were deemed an essential service because they sell appliances. He admits enforcement is a “grey area” at the moment for both police and businesses.
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Under the EMCPA, while emergency orders are in force, the following fines can be issued:
- Failure to comply with an order made during an emergency: $750
- Obstruction of a person exercising a power in accordance with an emergency order: $1,000
- Obstruction of a person performing a duty in accordance with an emergency order: $1,000
Fines of up to $500,000 can also be issued to corporation owners and directors under the EMCPA.
Peterborough Public Health says it has seen “a high level of compliance” as officials continue to conduct surveillance and inspections of facilities to confirm the closure or modified operations of restaurants and bars, which are now permitted to offer takeout or delivery services.
Julie Ingram, the health unit’s manager of environmental health, says one key focus has been grocery stores, where officials have observed infection prevention and control measures and discussed best strategies to prevent crowding and encourage physical distancing.
“It has a been a big focus for us the past few days,” Ingram said. “Some strategies have included plexiglass in front of cashiers, tape markings on the ground to ensure physical distancing is maintained. Stores are limiting the number of people they are allowing into the facility.”
The health unit also continues to monitor the Peterborough Regional Farmers Market, which opened outdoors last Saturday at Citi Centre. Vendors are encouraging people to place pre-orders for pickup when possible, and the market has eliminated all seating and play areas.
“They’ve been really proactive in doing what they can to make sure they limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” Ingram said. “The message is from them is to get in and get out.”
Ingram says there is an onus on businesses to do their part, but everyone has a role to play in protecting the community.
Police urge not to call 911 unless it is an emergency.
For complaints related to a person not complying with the Quarantine Act call Peterborough Public Health at 705-743-1000. Assigning a quarantine investigator to field and investigate complaints is the responsibility of the health unit, not police.
For all health-related questions also call Peterborough Public Health or email firstname.lastname@example.org. After hours, call Telehealth Ontario at 866-797-0000. For more information, visit Peterborough Public Health.