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Durham police say they won’t be making random stops

By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter

Durham Regional Police Services (DRPS) say they will not be stopping random vehicles or pedestrians in the community.

According to a statement released by DRPS, officers “will not be conducting random vehicle or pedestrian stops in our community under this new legislation.”

Premier Doug Ford announced an extended stay-at-home order of an additional two weeks and further lockdown measures Friday, April 16 in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

As part of the new measures, the province says police will have enhanced enforcement measures to stop anyone in the community.

“We will continue to engage our community, educate when appropriate and enforce when necessary any breaches of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) or the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA),” the statement reads, noting DRPS are continuing to review the legislation and will provide further details as needed.

Durham police are urging residents to take personal responsibility for following the public health guidelines and advice set out by the province in order to limit contact with others.

“Stay home unless leaving for an essential reason as outlined by the provincial government,” the statement continues. “Do not gather inside or outside with anyone who is not from your household. Wear masks and practice social distancing when out in public.”

“I know the majority of Ontario residents are doing the right thing, they’re following the rules, keeping each other safe, but we need to step up enforcement. We need to focus on those who are deliberately putting others at risk by ignoring the stay-at-home order,” says Ford. “Those gathering in large groups continue to put themselves and others at risk. So, understand the restrictions will be strongly, strongly enforced, because they must be.

However, several other police services in other jurisdictions have released similar statements as the DRPS stating they will not be randomly stopping vehicles or pedestrians.

Waterloo Regional Police released a statement on Twitter, stating, “As we review the new COVID19 provincial regulations announced today, please note that we will continue to focus on the 4 Es when it comes to enforcement. We will not be conducting random vehicle or individual stops,” it reads.

In a statement on Twitter, Toronto Police Service said, “The Toronto Police Service will continue to engage, educate and enforce, but we will not be doing random stops of people or cars. We can all do our part for the health & safety of everyone. The Toronto Police Service will continue to engage and enforce equitably and effectively, recognizing always that we must inspire public trust.”

Peel Regional Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah released a similar statement.

“I echo the sentiment of police leaders across the province,” states Duraiappah. “Peel Police will continue our focus on Engage, Explain, Educate & as a last resort, Enforce the EMCPA. We will not conduct random stops of vehicles or people, to determine their reasons for being away from their homes.”

In his press conference Friday, April 16, Ford says the province is “losing the battle between the variants and vaccines” and that the pace of the vaccine supply has not kept up with the spread of the new COVID variants.

“We’ve been ringing the alarm bells for weeks,” he says. “We have never shied away from doing what’s necessary and it comes down to three things: limiting mobility, enforcing the rules, and getting vaccines into arms.”

As part of the new restrictions, the emergency declaration province-wide stay-at-home was extended an additional two weeks for a total of six weeks.

Outdoor gatherings will be limited to members of an individual household; anyone who lives alone can join with one other household.

All non-essential construction will be closed, and outdoor recreational amenities such as golf courses, basketball courts, soccer fields, will be closed.

Further, the capacity for big box retail has been reduced to 25 per cent, and beginning Monday, April 19, all places of worship will be capped to a maximum of 10 people inside.

Ford says in order to get ahead of the variants that are plaguing Western Canada, checkpoints will be set up at all inter-provincial borders beginning Monday, April 19 as well. Border crossings between Ontario and the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec will be limited to work, medical care, or the transportation of goods.

“We know that when they’re followed, these measures work,” says Ford, noting they reduce mobility and flatten the curve.

Ford says 20 per cent of the province currently has 80 per cent of the cases, and the vaccine supply to hot spots will be increased by 25 per cent  to help beat the inferno, however, he says more vaccines are needed from the federal government.

He says clinics have closed and have had to turn people away because they don’t have the supply needed.

More vaccines means fewer cases, more vaccines means fewer hospitalizations, and more vaccines means we get out of this sooner,” says Ford.

The province has enacted its emergency plan to add an additional 700 to 1,000 beds, which Ford says they don’t want to use, but will if they have to.

“Each of you have the most important role to play. Please stay home, follow the rules, and get your vaccine as soon as you’re eligible,” he says. “My friends, you have my word, we will not rest until this virus is beaten.”