Toronto police say they have laid approximately 160 charges and broken up a number of large indoor gatherings five days after launching a new initiative to enforce Ontario’s stay-at-home order.

In a news release issued Monday, police said that the charges were issued by the city’s 16 dedicated enforcement teams to support the provincewide order while helping to “slow the spread of the virus.”

Most of the 210 calls received came from downtown Toronto, according to police, with Saturday, April 24 being the busiest night as officers responded to gatherings at houses, apartments, short-term rentals and businesses.

Police said that in one call that originated at a condo in the area of King and Portland streets, officers were met with a “large number of people inside the property.”

At least 10 of the occupants did not live at the address, police said. The guests, and the homeowner, were all subsequently charged under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA).

During another call, police said that officers could hear loud music coming from a nearby unit at York and Harbour streets. Following an investigation, it was determined the apartment was being used as a short-term rental and six people were charged under the EMCPA.

In one party police attended Thursday night at a Richmond Street semi, one person was charged and several other people were dispersed, police said.

“There were about 20-30 kids. They made a lot of noise. They woke up the neighbours. This is happening in a COVID lockdown,” said neighbour Andrei Ordine.

Surveillance video in the neighbourhood show people arriving at the party, and police writing tickets.


“With COVID in the community right now, rampant, having a super spreader event connected to my wall, as well as sharing the vents, it’s scary,” said his companion Susan. “We don’t know if someone is infected and can spread this to other people. Our health and safety is at risk here.”

CTV News Toronto reached the owner of the suite, Mahima Poddar, who confirmed the suite has been operating as a short-term rental. She said the city has asked her to cut ties with her property manager, and she’s given the company notice.

“It’s upsetting and disappointing given where we are with the pandemic. It’s unfortunate that people are making these choices,” Poddar told CTV News.

The Ordines say they asked city bylaw officers to take action on the short term rental weeks ago.

“Nothing has happened so far. It’s been really frustrating to live beside this,” Susan said.

In addition to the charges laid under the EMCPA, police said that they laid eight criminal charges including obstructing a police officer and assault.

“At a time when positive case counts continue to rise to worrying numbers and hospital ICU admissions are at their highest, it’s extremely disappointing to see people having parties and gatherings and putting themselves, their families, health-care workers and First Responders at increased risk,” said Chief James Ramer said in a statement.

The police force first announced the dedicated enforcement teams in all 16 divisions last Wednesday with the goal of responding to “large gatherings in both indoor and outdoor settings."

On April 16, the province introduced an extension of its stay-at-home order by two weeks in an effort to curb the spread of infection.

Within that announcement, police forces provincewide were granted new powers that allowed officers to randomly stop people on the street to question their reasons for being outdoors.

Toronto police, and the majority of police services across Ontario, rejected the measure and the province would later redefine the scope of those powers. 

With files from CTV News Toronto's Jon Woodward