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Toronto police 'dedicated enforcement teams' to begin their watch tonight

Last Updated Apr 22, 2021 at 8:14 am EDT

TORONTO, Jan. 25, 2021 -- Mounted police officers are seen on duty in Toronto, Canada, on Jan. 25, 2021. (Xinhua/Zou Zheng via Getty Images)

New police enforcement teams focused on breaking up large gatherings will begin their watch on Thursday night.

The “dedicated enforcement teams” from Toronto Police will be deployed in all sixteen divisions of the city to enforce provincial stay-at-home orders.

Officers won’t be making random stops, but can enter a property if they have reasonable grounds to believe there is non-compliance, such as investigating a complaint of a loud party.

Police say there will be a particular focus on indoor gatherings at short-term rentals and underground bars.

The new enforcement approach begins at 5 p.m.

RELATED: Ottawa police halts 24/7 presence at interprovincial checkpoints

Toronto police announced Wednesday they were launching  the new teams to focus on individuals that choose to blatantly ignore the current COVID-19 related restrictions.

The maximum gathering size allowed under provincial guidelines is five people that reside in the same household.

Staff superintendent Randy Carter is overseeing the enforcement action and says the divisional teams will focus on large gatherings including parties at short-term rentals or at bars and restaurants.

“Everyone must do their part to protect our health and safety, and for police that means continuing to enforce equitably and effectively,” he said.

Police chief James Ramer says officers will not be conducting random stops of people or cars.

Additionally, people are not compelled to explain why they are out of their residence, nor is being outside evidence of a failure to comply with the emergency order.

“We are at a critical stage of this pandemic. COVID-19 is now a matter of public health and public safety,” said Ramer.

“The Toronto Police Service will enforce the provincial orders and will work with the city’s bylaw officers and Toronto Public Health to enforce the measures that will help slow the rapid spread of COVID-19 that is putting public safety at risk.”

Ontario reversed course on sweeping new police powers Saturday, just one day after Premier Doug Ford announced the measures that triggered a swift and furious backlash.

The stay-at-home order allows people to leave their residence for essentials such as grocery shopping, going to the pharmacy, getting vaccinated, or exercising outdoors. This includes going to work if you can’t work from home.

Ramer says workers are not required to have proof from their employer that they are traveling to, or from their workplace.