Life in Canada just got a little less social. In an announcement Friday from Ontario Provincial Police, it was confirmed that people and businesses who break new COVID-19 social distancing rules could receive seriously hefty fines. For members of the public, a $1,000 fine could be just around the corner.

After Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency last week, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has confirmed that fines will now be in place for those failing to follow the latest COVID-19 protocols.

"Although voluntary compliance is always preferred, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), there are consequences for individuals and businesses that choose to defy the Act while it is in force," OPP told CBC News.

While the majority of people are complying with the latest rules, OPP says that many others continue to ignore them.

For individuals, fines can range from $750 to $1,000, while businesses and corporations could face a bill of up to $500,000 for breaking the new social distancing protocol.

Under emergency legislation, gatherings of 50 people or more have been banned, businesses have been forced to close to the public, and all large public events have become prohibited.

These rules will remain in place until at least March 31, but it’s possible they could be extended further.

The state of emergency that was declared on March 17 immediately closed down many of the province’s public facilities, including libraries, schools, childcare centres, bars, restaurants, theatres, and cinemas.

Speaking about these measures, Premier Doug Ford explained, "This decision was not made lightly…”

“By declaring a state of emergency, our province will be in the position to act as fast and decisively as needed ... This is changing hour by hour, day by day, and we're getting ahead of the curve," he said.

This comes as cases of COVID-19 continue to be diagnosed across the province of Ontario.

On Saturday morning, it was confirmed that the region had 413 cases of the virus. With 59 new cases overnight, this became the largest single-day increase in cases since the outbreak began. 

The provincial chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said this number is likely to keep rising after March break.

More information about Ontario's latest COVID-19 rules and guidelines can be found by clicking here.

*This article's cover image is for illustrative purposes only.

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