Ontario closed its borders to Manitoba and Quebec on Monday morning as it looks to slow the spread of COVID-19 entering the province.
As of 12:01 a.m., police in Ottawa set up for a 24-7 checkpoint at the city’s numerous interprovincial crossings across the river into Gatineau, Que.
Officers are stationed on the Ontario side of the Champlain, Portage, Chaudière and Macdonald-Cartier bridges, with a presence at the Alexandra Bridge as well to check pedestrians and cyclists.
The Quyon and Bourbonnais ferries will also be monitored under the new regime.
OPS officers are taking the lead in Ottawa, with support from the OPP. Provincial police are in charge of monitoring the Manitoba border and the 401 crossing into Quebec.
When a person approaches the checkpoint from either the Quebec or Manitoba side, they could be stopped and questioned by police about their reason for entering Ontario. If denied, a motorist could be directed to turn back.
But Ottawa police said in the first 24 to 72 hours of the policy, “officers will focus on education and awareness.”
Members of the public are asked to wear a mask when interacting with police.
Beyond the traditional licence and registration, individuals stopped at the border will not be required to provide documentation such as a note from an employer or doctor. But those questioned will be asked to provide their name, address and reason for travelling.
Here is a list of valid reasons for travelling into Ontario under the new border restrictions:
- your principal residence is in Ontario
- you work in Ontario
- you’re transporting goods into Ontario as part of a business
- you’re exercising an Aboriginal or treaty right
- you require health care or social services
- you’re travelling through Ontario to another destination
- you’re picking up a patient who will receive care in Manitoba or Quebec
- you’re in the care of the Children’s Aid Society
- you’re entering the province to exercise custody rights
- you’re complying with a court decision
- you’re responding to a “critical” incident, which includes preventing injury or illness, preventing property damage or performing an otherwise necessary action
- you have a humanitarian or compassionate reason, which includes providing care, attending a person who is dying or a funeral
Commercial vehicles, such as transport trucks, will be allowed to pass. Vehicles with Ontario licence plates will be stopped at the checkpoint but also allowed to proceed.
Those arriving in Ontario via interprovincial or international trains, flights or buses are also permitted to enter.
The Quebec government also said it would bar any travelers from Ontario, save for a few essential reasons.
- having a primary residence in the province or a secondary residence requiring maintenance
- humanitarian purposes
- obtaining health care
- work or study
- complying with a court order
- being a federal public servant whose work requires travel into Quebec
- ensuring the transport of goods in Quebec
- travelling through the province as part of an interprovincial/international trip
The Quebec government said in a release that those returning to their primary residences from Ontario must self-isolate for a period of 14 days. Exemptions to this self-isolation order include providing care, working or studying in the province, complying with a court order or humanitarian reasons.
People crossing through the province or transporting goods are not allowed to make unnecessary stops or dine-in at a restaurant.
Quebec police forces are set up on their side of the border to ensure compliance with these orders.