No random stops but COVID rules will be enforced: Chief Hansen

Sarnia Police Chief Norm Hansen. March 2020. (Photo by Sarnia Police Service)

Sarnia police won’t be stopping people randomly to make sure they have a legitimate reason for being away from home.

Under the province’s new stay-at-home order, that came into effect Thursday, residents are allowed to leave for essential purposes only including grocery shopping and healthcare.

Sarnia Police Chief Norm Hansen said a lot of the enforcement is complaint-driven, especially when it comes to large gatherings.

“City bylaw (enforcement) is the number one driver of enforcement on it, and it’s their responsibility,” said Chief Hansen. “However, we’re there to back them up and assist anytime they need it. Sometimes, if the situation gets dangerous, or if it needs more follow up, then we would assist. The big key in the first round was education and that’s still part of it. People have had nine months of education now and if they’re blatantly breaking the rules then it’s time for enforcement.”

Chief Norm Hansen said people are still able to leave their homes and visit area parks like Canatara, just not in large groups.

“In the first phase we kind of blocked a few parking lots because we were trying to discourage congregations. Right now it’s not exactly beach weather, but we will keep an eye on that and if it becomes a problem in the future, and if the COVID situation doesn’t improve then obviously we’ll have to consult with the primary control group and do something about it. Realistically, the number now is five people gathering outdoors, it’s not very many.”

Those found to be in violation of the stay-at-home order could face fines ranging from a minimum $750, up to $10,000 for individuals, and $10-million for corporations.

The new restrictions are expected to be in place until at least February 11.