“I had a conversation with the mayor yesterday and what we are doing now is that we are going beyond the educational component,” Toronto police chief Mark Saunders told reporters Saturday afternoon.
“The public is quite aware of what we are asking when it comes to physical distancing. So what we’re going to do is move towards zero tolerance [approach], with some common sense factors, effective today. ”
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Saunders says a law enforcement blitz that is in effect over the Easter weekend is expected to run until April 13, but can be extended.
The “zero tolerance” approach will extend beyond that, in all situations where officers strive to maintain physical distance, Saunders said.
“If a three-year-old child meets the physical distance of another family, we are not going to start putting tickets on it,” he said.
“Those who deliberately violate, they will certainly be charged. “
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Saunders said that as the public is more educated, those who break the rules are likely to do so deliberately.
“As we head for warmer days, we know it will become a problem,” he added.
Global News contacted city officials in Toronto to see if administrative officers would take a similar hard-line approach, but had no response at the time of publication.
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Park amenities remain closed in Toronto during a pandemic. A regulation also prohibits people from being less than two meters from each other in parks and public places. The law applies to those who do not live together.
Meanwhile, the provincial government has banned gatherings of more than five people.
Police have previously stated that they have various “application tools”, including tickets up to $ 1,000.
Saunders’ comments come after Mayor John Tory sent a letter to the police chief and Carleton Grant, the executive director of municipal licensing and standards, calling for tougher action.
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In the letter, Tory said he wanted to see more tickets issued, not just warnings.
“As you also know, despite very simple legal and sanitary requirements, the most important of which is that people stay within two meters of each other, there are still many people who do not do what they must do to keep themselves healthy and to protect health. from others, “said Tory.
“We have reports of everything, bonfires on the beach, hanging out in a group in parking lots, playing pickup sports in closed areas, all of which involve groups of people who don’t live together and so might spread the virus. “
Tory said the majority of Toronto residents follow the guidelines and for those who did not comply, the officers gave “hundreds of information talks, numerous warnings and a few tickets”.
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Tory said that “the time has come for stricter enforcement and more tickets”.
“As an elected official, I cannot tell law enforcement officials how they apply the law, but I am through this letter offering my strong opinion,” he said.
During the weekend of April 4 to 5, nearly 2,500 people spoke to the city and just under 30 tickets were issued.
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In this weekend’s blitz, 200 municipal bylaws are participating, 160 Toronto police, and parking officials will be patrolling enclosed lots.
The Toronto Police Service said on Friday that their officers had issued a total of 2,526 warnings, three tickets for provincial offenses, four by-laws, 88 parking labels and four tows.
As of Friday, there were 1,891 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto, including 1,637 confirmed cases and 254 probable cases. Seventy-seven people died from COVID-19 in the city.
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