The RCMP says they will be assisting in enforcing the Quarantine Act Order during the COVID-19 crisis.
A statement from RCMP headquarters Friday said that the Public Health Agency of Canada asked police agencies to provide physical verification to make sure those who are subject to the mandatory Quarantine Act Order are complying with isolation and quarantine requirements.
Mounties will be conducting enforcement in their jurisdictions and say they will also play a coordination role for all Canadian law enforcement, by providing information required to conduct physical verification of compliance with the Order, including taking any enforcement actions deemed appropriate by the police of jurisdiction.
“[Police will make sure] they are inside their homes following isolation orders. These checks will generally be limited to persons who, after PHAC has done initial verifications by phone, text or e-mail, may require a physical verification by police,” said the statement.
Victoria police say they are taking a measured approach to this issue.
“Our primary focus is on education and encouragement to help people understand the importance of following The Order,” said VicPD spokesperson Cameron MacIntyre in a statement to CHEK News.
“We are aware of our authorities under The Order and will coordinate with our partner agencies in the event enforcement is required.”
Oak Bay police say they are in regular teleconferences with their colleagues across B.C. to share information, best practices, and try to ensure consistency.
“If someone is breaking the law, including the Quarantine Act, we would investigate,” said Oak Bay Police Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties in a statement to CHEK News.
The Quarantine Act Order requires anyone who is arriving in Canada to self-quarantine at home for 14-days.
Those who violate the act can face a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months.
Those who cause a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while contravening the Act could be liable for a fine of up to $1,000,000 or imprisonment of up to three years, or to both.
RCMP say arrests would be a last resort, as taking a person into custody is not the preferred approach to enforcing isolation or quarantine, and may place officers and other persons at risk of exposure to the virus.
Instead, officers can issue a court appearance notice or summons.
“Choosing to ignore mandatory isolation and quarantine orders is not only against the law, it’s also putting citizens, first responders, health professionals and the most vulnerable at risk of exposure to the virus,” said RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki in the statement.
“Collectively, everyone in Canada has a role to play to ensure compliance with isolation and physical distancing measures.”
They say when enforcing the law in their jurisdictions, officers will use a risk-based, measured approach to non-compliance, focusing on education and encouragement.
Mounties will attempt to conduct physical verification with individual while maintaining physical distancing. They will then attempt to speak to the person, inform them of the law and explain the importance of compliance, as well as the potential consequences of non-compliance.
CHEK News has reached out to multiple police agencies on Vancouver Island for comment on enforcement.