Police in GTA say they’re not issuing tickets to cars with multiple passengers
Published Wednesday, April 1, 2020 6:00PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 1, 2020 10:40PM EDT
Several police services across the GTA have clarified that they are not issuing tickets to vehicles where there is more than one passenger.
Questions around vehicle occupancy arose Tuesday when social posts emerged showing tickets supposedly issued to a driver for having a non-family member in the car with them.
According to the post, the $750 fine cited the province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and was issued in Scarborough.
Toronto police could not immediately comment on the alleged ticket, however they said that so far they have issued 14 tickets in relation to non-compliance with the closure of park amenities and non-compliance with social gatherings of more than five people.
Both are currently prohibited under the province’s emergency laws related to the COVID-19 pandemic, though family members are excluded from the rule against gatherings of five or more.
In a news release on Wednesday evening, Toronto police said people travelling, or being parked in a car, with five people or less, including people from different home addresses, is not against the law.
Toronto police said the directives only apply to organized public events and social gatherings. In most cases, city bylaw officers will be monitoring and providing information to non-compliant individuals and businesses.
“Education is our top priority,” Const. Alex Li said.
He said the goal is to reiterate to the public the importance of physical distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19, adding that everybody needs to partake in these measures.
“If education components don't work, then enforcement is the next option for us," Li said.
In the interim, a number of police forces across the GTA have said that they are not issuing tickets to cars with more than one person as part of their enforcement of social distancing regulations.
“Despite what you may have read on social media, @DRPS is NOT issuing tickets under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act when there are two people in a car,” Durham police said via Twitter Wednesday. “However, we would like to remind everyone to: maintain physical distance & stay home except for essential trips.”
York Regional Police said that they had received more than 200 calls relating to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act over the past seven days. The calls were about non-essential businesses staying open and social distancing violations. However YRP said that they have not issued any charges under the act so far.
Peel police said that “despite rumors circulating on social media, @PRP are not issuing tickets under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act if there are 2+ people in acar.
“We recommend limiting the number of people in any car to family, to limit the spread of COVID-19.”
Halton police urged people to be wary of possible false information and to pay attention to government sources of information about the pandemic.
“We have seen social media posts that are blatantly incorrect and spreading false information so I would urge you to be cautious,” a Halton police spokesperson said in a statement to CP24 Wednesday morning.
“Police leaders are working closely with local health and government authorities as well as with our first responder partners to keep communities safe. We are also depending on all Ontarians to educate themselves on how to keep themselves and their families safe during this health crisis.”
Premier Doug Ford’s office told CP24 in a statement that police have discretion to either issue set fines or summons under the Provincial Offences Act to enforce the emergency orders that have been issued by the province.
Individuals can be subject to as long as a year in prison and fines as high as $100,000 for violating the act.
The provincial government also said Tuesday night that anyone charged with violating the orders must identify themselves correctly to police, or face a further fine of $750.