'Strict fines' for COVID-19 rule breakers, says P.E.I. premier
Islanders urged to call 1-800-958-6400 if they see someone who is supposed to be self-isolating but is not
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King says people who do not comply with orders to self-isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic will face strict fines.
"These measures that are in place are not an option … they are required," he said.
"There will be strict fines for those who do not comply with these directives, and law enforcement will have the authority to issue these fines as of [Monday]."
Under P.E.I.'s Public Health Act, chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison will have the ability to issue orders, King said.
Bloyce Thompson, attorney general and minister of justice and public safety, said as of Monday, law enforcement can issue fines starting at $1,000 for the first offence, $2,000 for the second offence and $10,000 for the third and subsequent offences.
This applies to anyone who is not self-isolating when they are required to. Anyone who has returned from international travel since March 8 is required to self-isolate for 14 days, as are people who have returned from another province since March 21. Exceptions are truck drivers, airline crews and other essential workers.
People awaiting testing or results, or anyone in close contact with a positive case also has a duty to self-isolate, Morrison said.
She said the province is hearing from many people that others may not be taking self-isolation and social distancing seriously. Morrison said police may first issue a warning to people who do not understand what self-isolating means. She said the fines are meant for people who are required to self-isolate and know what that means, but are blatantly ignoring the order.
"It is a balanced use of authority," she said. "It is all in the interest of the health and safety of Islanders."
Thompson said people can call 1-800-958-6400 if they see someone who is required to be self-isolating but is not. Do not call 911, he added.
Thompson said Morrison spoke with police chiefs on P.E.I. Monday and "they are prepared for this."
He also said the rules may sound strict, but are the "new realities."
"It's unfortunate we have to go this route."
There are three confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the Island, all travel related.
"The message is plain: stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19," said King, who remains in self-isolation after travelling to Boston on March 11.
King said he will be on a conference call Monday evening with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other premiers, and hopes to get clarity on employment insurance and other issues affecting Islanders.
COVID-19: What you need to know
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.
How can I protect myself?
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.
More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.
With files from Nicola MacLeod and Sara Fraser