Coronavirus: Guelph police to maintain 'education-first' approach during stay-at-home order

Premier Doug Ford announced new measures to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, but many say the initiatives miss the mark and don’t go far enough.

Guelph police say the service will continue to maintain its “education-first” approach during the stay-at-home order, as it has since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, the Ontario government declared a state of emergency — the second during the pandemic — and issued the stay-at-home order.

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As of Thursday, Ontario residents will have to stay home except for essential purposes such as grocery shopping, accessing health care and exercising.

The province has given police and bylaw officers the power to enforce the stay-at-home order and issue tickets to rule-breakers.

But Guelph police said on Wednesday that they are still awaiting further direction from the province.

Spokesperson Scott Tracey also added that officers will continue with their education-first approach when it comes to enforcing the rules.

“Educating those who fail to adhere to the law with progressive steps taken towards enforcement if necessary,” Tracey said in an email.

It’s unclear how many tickets police officers have laid since March 2020, but Tracey has said no tickets were issued over the holidays.

The City of Guelph has also said its bylaw officers did not charge anyone for gathering over the holidays.

In a news release on Tuesday night, the city said as of Jan. 18, it would begin to actively enforce its mandatory mask policy on Guelph Transit.

“The province is calling for more enforcement and gave us more tools to respond using a fair and reasonable approach,” said deputy CAO Colleen Clack-Bush.

“Most people know masks are required on transit, and most people wear them. Some have good reasons why they can’t. We’ll use this week to educate riders about possible charges and fines before we start issuing tickets on Monday.”

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The City of Guelph said their approach would be “fair and reasonable” when it came to enforcing the stay-at-home order.

“It’s important to note that most people are following the guidelines and we want to thank everyone who is doing their part to help us slow the spread of COVID-19,” spokesperson Stacey Hare said. “The province has given us new enforcement tools, and we’ll always start with a conversation and education.”

She added that most people are understanding and cooperative when bylaw officers respond to a complaint.

Bylaw officers will not randomly stop people on the street to ask where they are going but will instead focus will be on large retail stores and transit buses.

They will also respond to concerns about private gatherings, Hare said in an email.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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