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Toronto police lay 65 charges over first weekend of stay-at-home order

Last Updated Jan 18, 2021 at 11:50 pm EDT

Heading into the weekend, Toronto police said they would use “their discretion” when it came to enforcing the province’s new stay-at-home order that went into effect on January 12.

They used that discretion to dole out dozens of tickets over the weekend.

The Toronto Police Service (TPS) tweeted that it laid 65 provincial and criminal charges over the first weekend that the order was being enforced.

“Officers attended various large gatherings and enforced non-compliance where appropriate,” TPS tweeted.

Const. Alex Li said on Monday the police service has increased patrols throughout the city.

“We want to stress and reiterate we have enhanced patrols throughout the city and our officers will disperse any type of large gatherings we are called upon to investigate”

Li said police attended protests over the weekend as well as an alleged illegal gaming house in the Yonge Street and Davisville area.

Twenty-five people were charged in connection to the Davisville investigation, he said.

“We want to stress this is no longer a public health issue but a public safety issue,” Li said.

He added that gathering in large groups — including protests — is a risky proposition.

“Do not attend these protests you are not only putting yourself at risk to exposure to COVID-19, you’re putting the broader community and other family members at spreading COVID-19,” he said.

“If you do we will have all the deployable resources at these protests and if charges are warranted we will lay them,” Li added.

Last week Toronto police clarified how the order would be enforced, noting that it doesn’t give police the power to enter a home or the authority to stop a vehicle for the sole purpose of checking if they are in compliance.

Police also stressed that merely being outside is not evidence of failure to comply with the order and people do not have to explain why they are out of their homes.

A person also does not need proof from their employer that they are travelling to and from work.

RELATED: Toronto police share how they will enforce provincial stay-at-home order

Mayor John Tory also commented on the enforcement efforts, saying he expected police to focus on blatant offenders without crossing the line and hounding citizens going about their everyday activities.

“I don’t think they’re going to be combing the streets looking for anybody walking down the sidewalk and say ‘Aha! Are you going to get a prescriptions or going to pick up food?’ ” Tory told CityNews.

“I think they’re going to be looking for blatant examples of non-compliance.”