toronto police

Toronto police are cracking down on gatherings with special enforcement teams

Toronto police are vowing to take further action to quell the few social gatherings that continue to take place during the provincial shutdown and stay-at-home order.

The force has gone as far as establishing dedicated new teams to focus on enforcing Ontario's gathering limits, which as of April 17 were tightened from five person maximum outdoors to only those from the same household, with the potential addition of a person who lives alone or is a caregiver for that household.

Private indoor get-togethers have long been outright banned, save for, of course, among residents who live in the same house.

According to a news release issued by Toronto Police Service (TPS) Wednesday evening, each of the city's 16 police divisions will now get its own special team committed to finding and dispersing any large gatherings in their area, both indoor and outdoor.

Individuals found defying any orders under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) or the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) can be fined anywhere from $750 to $100,000, plus jail time.

"Our divisional teams will focus on large gatherings that fail to comply with the emergency orders, with a particular focus on indoor gatherings such as parties at short-term rentals or at bars and restaurants," the release reads before going on to assure citizens that there is no real change to police powers taking place here.

Authorities will not be doing random checks of residences, but are allowed to enter a home if they "have reasonable and probable grounds to believe there is non-compliance, such as when investigating a complaint of a loud party."

They also will not be stopping citizens for being outside of their homes, which was a huge concern across the province last week when Premier Doug Ford and his team announced that the government was giving officers the power to do so in order to ensure that the stay-at-home order was being heeded.

TPS was among multiple regional agencies that vowed not to follow these new orders before they were revoked anyway just one day later.

The ramped up enforcement, whatever it ends up looking like, starts Thursday at 5 p.m.

Though the move is obviously an attempt to help mitigate COVID-19 spread as case counts in Ontario remain high, many are still calling for other types of concentrated efforts on high-risk workplaces like factories and warehouses, on making vaccines more widely accessible, and on helping businesses devastated by hundreds of days of forced closures.

Toronto and Peel regions finally this week introduced a measure that will shut down any workplace with five or more cases of COVID-19 for 10 days.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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