Saskatchewan police conducting coronavirus self-isolation check-ins

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, police across Saskatchewan have been checking-up on recent travellers to ensure they are self-isolating for the required 14 days following an international trip.

Saskatchewan RCMP provides the Regina Police Service (RPS) with a daily list from the Public Health Agency of Canada that includes names and addresses of recent travellers, according to a spokesperson for the RPS.

“They (RCMP) follow up on persons living in the Regina area, outside our city, and we follow up on the ones who are Regina residents,” said Regina Police Service spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich.

For each name and address, the RPS creates a dispatched call for service.

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“They are lower priority calls so our officers get to them as they are able,” Popowich said. “The beginning of the week seems to be busier with such ‘checks’, sometimes in the area of 20-30 follow-ups on our daily list. That’s partly because we don’t dispatch these calls over the weekend when we are typically busier with other calls for service.”

If someone isn’t in compliance, the traveller’s information is sent to the Saskatchewan Health Authority to further investigate the matter. Sometimes they educate the traveller on the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Fines issued under the public health order

So far, the RPS has not had to issue any tickets for non-compliant travellers. However, in the spring, the RPS did issue a ticket to a woman – not a traveller – who tested positive for COVID-19 and was refusing to self-isolate, said Popowich.

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The Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) and Saskatchewan RCMP have also conducted similar checks since April.

A spokesperson for the SPS says no tickets have been issued for non-compliance.

Saskatchewan RCMP have fined one person $2,000 for violating the self-isolation orders, and another person was fined for breaking the gathering orders.

As for the Ministry of Health, four fines have been handed out to date by the health authority:

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  • A person was fined $2,800 (including an $800 surcharge) for not self-isolating.
  • A person was fined $2,800 for holding a private gathering that exceeded the maximum number of participants.
  • A person was charged for failing to isolate while positive with COVID-19 and was fined $2,800.
  • A business was charged for operating during restrictions and was fined $14,000 (which includes a $4,000 surcharge).
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Enforcement of the public health order

The Emergency Planning Act states that RCMP and police services are authorized to enforce any orders made in accordance with The Public Health Act.

The act states people can be detained for any order issued by the chief medical health officer, including self-isolating.

“As a last resort, when individuals are unwilling to voluntarily self-isolate, a detention order signed by a medical health officer will be issued and police will act to detain and transport the person to an isolation centre in order to reduce the potential risk of transmitting COVID-19,” said Noel Busse, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice.

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Since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, seven people have had to be detained for non-compliance, according to data provided by the Ministry of Justice.

Five people were housed at the Whitebirch Detention Centre in Regina which is no longer being used as an isolation centre.

In June, two additional people were housed in a secure-custody setting at Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford (SHNB) in an area that served as an isolation unit.

There is no one currently being housed in the isolation unit at SHNB.

“In most cases, individuals voluntarily comply with the requirements to self-isolate. In some situations people are unable to self-isolate due to lack of access to suitable accommodation,” Busse said.

“In these cases, support groups including public health and social services will assist in providing the required accommodations.”

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