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Stay-at-home enforcement reserved for 'blatant disregard,' says Collingwood/TBM OPP

The local police force is increasing staffing and patrols in the area, and anticipating an increase in calls for service

Collingwood and The Blue Mountains OPP will be out in more numbers and in more places to encourage compliance with the stay-at-home order in place in Ontario. 

According to the leadership at the local detachment, however, the focus is education first. 

Acting detachment commander Inspector Chris Maecker said local OPP will be reminding citizens and educating them about the stay-at-home order.

“We will reserve enforcement for cases of blatant disregard,” said Maecker in an email to CollingwoodToday. 

Late Friday afternoon (April 16) Premier Doug Ford and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones announced the province was granting police special authority to stop vehicles to ask why the driver and/or passengers were leaving their homes. 

Police could do the same for pedestrians. The powers were supposed to last for the duration of the stay-at-home order.

However, by Saturday afternoon (April 17) the provincial government walked back the new police powers, stating police will only be able to stop people if police have reason to believe those people are participating in an “organized public event or social gathering.” 

Under the stay-at-home order and current shutdown restrictions, all gatherings outside of household members are banned. 

Even before Jones’ announcement, police forces across the province were releasing statements to clarify their officers would be on the lookout for large gatherings, but would not be stopping individuals at random. 

“We will reserve enforcement for cases of blatant disregard,” said Insp. Maecker. “We urge citizens to stay at home and follow the health unit guidelines.” 

Collingwood and The Blue Mountains OPP have been working with Collingwood and The Blue Mountains’ municipal bylaw enforcement officers, as well as the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and Grey Bruce Health Unit, to carry out enforcement of emergency orders since the first provincial state of emergency was declared in March 2020. 

However, with the current stay-at-home order and outright ban on gatherings, Maecker expects the local detachment will be busier than usual. 

“We expect an increase in calls for service on top of our busy volume in relation to the order and are increasing our presence/patrols on streets and trails through ATVs and increased staffing,” he said. 

The stay-at-home order took effect April 8 and is in place for at least six weeks from that date.

For more on the current restrictions, click here.