What can you be fined for under existing COVID-19 measures?

Between the federal Quarantine Act and Ontario's state of emergency, members of the public could face serious penalties, from hefty fines to jail time, for breaking certain rules.

For certain violations, you could face fines or jail time

There are a number of enforceable measures in place under both the federal and provincial governments. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Between the federal Quarantine Act and Ontario's state of emergency, members of the public could face serious penalties for breaking certain rules.

You could face fines — or even jail time — under some of the measures put in place to fight COVID-19.

Here's a breakdown:

In Ontario, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), the province can issue orders, which are enforceable by police. 

The orders currently in place include the mandatory closure of non-essential businesses like public libraries and concert venues, the mandatory closure of all outdoor recreational amenities, the stopping of price gouging on necessary goods like disinfectant products.

Furthermore, gatherings of more than 5 people at a time are prohibited. That order about the gatherings was issued Saturday, replacing a previous ban on public events of more than 50 people.

  • Failure to comply with an order made during a declared emergency - $750 fine
  • Obstruction of person exercising a power in accordance with an emergency order - $1,000 fine
  • Corporations that fail to comply - $500,000 fine

Sgt. Steve Betteridge with Windsor Police Service explained that police can enforce any order made by the province during a declared emergency. 

It's possible that the province could declare more orders down the road.

Required to identify yourself if charged with breaching an emergency order

A temporary power issued by the province on Tuesday requires that people who are charged with an offence under the EMCPA identify themselves if asked by a provincial offences officer. 

If a person does not correctly identify themselves, here are the possible penalties: 

  • Failing to correctly identify oneself - $750 fine
  • Obstructing any person exercising a power if a provincial offences officer issues a ticket - $1,000

Furthermore, in its news release on Tuesday, the Government of Ontario said that failure to comply with an emergency order could carry punishments of up to 1 year in prison or a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual, $500,000 for a director of a corporation, or $10,000,000 for a corporation itself if a provincial offences officer charges the individual by issuing a summons. 

Quarantine Act

Under the Quarantine Act, there's another set of rules for Canadians returning to the country from abroad. Travellers now have a legal obligation to quarantine for 14 days, and if they disobey that order, they can face serious penalties. 

  • Failing to comply with the order - maximum fine of $750,000 and/or imprisonment for 6 months
  • If someone jeopardizes another's life "while wilfully or recklessly contravening the act" - $1 million and/or up to three years in prison

Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne with Ontario Provincial Police explains that the federal Quarantine Act does not give police any new powers, but police will "assist with requests" from those designated as screening officers or quarantine officers under the act.

WPS echoed that, to say they will work with screening officers "if requested."

In the meantime, Betteridge says that the Windsor community is doing a "fantastic job" with how it's reacting to the pandemic. 

"Right now, our members' primary goal in this area is working to spread the word through education and warnings."