ontario travel restrictions

Ontario introduces new travel restrictions and police powers and some say it's a police state

Ontario is introducing new travel restrictions to limit movement between provinces and help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Premier Doug Ford announced a series of new public health measures Friday following the release of alarming new modelling that suggests Ontario could see more than 10,000 cases per day by the end of May if measures don't change.

"To get ahead of the variants that are plaguing Western Canada, beginning Monday, we're setting up checkpoints at all interprovincial borders," Ford said Friday. "We'll be limiting access to border crossings between Ontario and the provinces of Manitoba."

The premier said exceptions to this rule include those that must travel for work, medical care or the transportation of goods. 

The premier also called on the federal government to "immediately tighten up our international borders," blaming the devastating situation in Ontario on the fact that variants of concern entered the country through travellers arriving from abroad.

He said the feds should limit air travel, tighten up the U.S. border and address "the countless issues we are seeing with testing and quarantining when people fly into our country."

Ford also announced an extension of the stay-at-home order, restrictions on outdoor activities and construction, and reduced outdoor gathering limits and retail store capacity, but there was no mention of paid sick leave — the measure experts have said is most needed to curb the spread.

The premier did announce, however, that police in Ontario will have new enhanced powers to enforce COVID-19 restrictions, something that has prompted many to say the government may be creating a police state.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said Friday that the province has made the "deliberate decision to temporarily enhance police officers' authority for the duration of the stay-at-home order."

Starting tomorrow, Jones said police will have the authority to ask people why they are not home and to provide their home address. 

Police will also have the authority to stop a vehicle to inquire about an individual's reason for leaving their residence, and officers will be able to issue tickets to anyone found to not be complying with the stay-at-home order. 

"I cannot stress this enough: It is imperative that everyone limit their trips outside the home to permitted purposes only, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, medical appointments, outdoor exercise or for work that cannot be done remotely," she said.

"We know that stay-at-home orders work. We've seen their success in slowing down the spread of the virus and saving lives."

Lead photo by

Roozbeh Rokni

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