Big box store blitz on first full weekend of stay-at-home orders John Marchesan

Big box stores across the province will face greater scrutiny this weekend, the first since the new stay-at-home orders took effect earlier in the week.

Provincial labour inspectors will be conducting a blitz to ensure public health rules are being enforced

Labour Minister Monte McNaughton says as many as 50 inspectors will visit stores in Toronto, Hamilton, Peel Region, York Region and Durham Region, making sure employees and customers are wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and following safety guidelines.

Inspectors will also be heading to workplaces where there have been outbreaks of the virus to make sure proper health protocols are being followed.

Anyone caught breaking the rules faces fines of between $750 and $1,000. If convicted, fines can escalate up to $100,000 for an individual and a possible year in jail while corporations can be subject to a $10 million fine.

McNaughton says the inspectors will also have the authority to temporarily close a premise and disperse groups of more than five people.

Toronto Police say they will be focusing their enforcement on businesses and restaurants that are not following the rules, complaints for gatherings and ticketing gatherings over five people.

While the stay-at-home order does not give police the power to stop a vehicle or an individual on the street to check if they are in compliance, if an officer has “reasonable and probable grounds” to suspect someone has violated the order, they may ask for the person’s identity to issue a ticket or summons. If the individual does not comply, they could be arrested for obstructing a police officer.

“The message from the Toronto Police Service is to stay home and stay safe,” said Deputy Chief Myron Demkiw. “We each have a personal responsibility to limit our travel to essential reasons only to slow the spread of COVID-19 and try to keep our families and communities safe and support our hospitals and healthcare workers.”

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

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