Doug Ford has just said he's getting even more serious about COVID-19 and has brought on 200 extra enforcement officers to lay charges and hand out fines.
It's been months since the coronavirus hit, and things have changed so much and so often, it can be tough keeping in mind what we are and are not allowed to do.
And now that there's a better chance of getting hefty fines, we should probably get a handle on what's what.
What Can I Get Fined For?
There are three levels of COVID-19 offences. The ones Ford's talking about are provincial and are related to gatherings, indoor dining, and businesses that have been ordered closed, like gyms. So, if you're dining in a restaurant when it's not allowed, or even dining in an enclosed tent that an enforcement officer deems to be essentially indoors, both you and the business owner can get fined.
But there are federal and municipal offences, too. The federal ones just related to people who have just returned from trips abroad, but the city ones are more wide-ranging. In Toronto, for instance, physical distancing and wearing masks are two big ones.
How Big Can The Fines Get?
Really frickin' big.
The most an individual is likely to get if they're just at a place they shouldn't be, like a party or a crowded place, is $750. That's high enough, especially if you're not working right now.
But if you're the one throwing the party, it's $10,000 at least, and up to $100,000. And if you're a corporation that's doing it, the max is $10 million.
And that's just the province. The city allows for up to $100,000 fine for not wearing a mask, and a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $5,000 for failing to maintain two-metre distance in parks, on beaches, or in public squares.
What's This New Ticketing Blitz About?
There were 1,210 new cases on Thursday, including 369 in Toronto. The numbers are much higher than they were in the spring and they're showing no sign of slowing down. The province established its new colour zones (yellow, orange, red, grey) last week, numbers are still high, so this is the one thing Ford can do short of going grey, which means lockdown, which it seems he really doesn't want to do.
How Many Charges Or Fines Have Actually Been Handed Out So Far In Toronto?
Not a lot, actually. Just 189 by the city since the beginning of the pandemic, and none at all so far in November. And though there were 996 complaints lodged in October, only five charges were laid. But given the blitz, especially if Toronto by-law officers pitch in, we could see numbers going back to what they were in April when there were 103 charges laid.
* Photographs are for illustration purposes only.