Peel Regional Police say their switchboard is being swamped with calls from Brampton and Mississauga residents concerning the new provincial stay-at-home orders.
For the most part calls are coming in because the public is not clear on the new regulations and don’t know if they will be arrested if they leave their homes.
However, police say such questions have been clogging up emergency lines such as 911 and other general information sources such as Twitter and Facebook.
Police have been directing the public to call 311 for information or to follow this Government of Ontario link to see what the new measures are.
While the police have been able to answer many of the calls, they say it is making it harder for those who have legitimate issues to reach emergency services.
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However, what is clear is there is still plenty of confusion over what the public is allowed to do during the current provincial stay-at-home orders.
Throughout the day on social media, members of the public have been asking if police will be randomly stopping people to find out if they are on essential business and if not, will they be charged?
Last night, Peel Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah would not say directly if police will be making random stops, but said that they will uphold the law if there is cause to do so.
“Use your discretion, be reasonable,” Duraiappah told the CBC on what his officers have been told to do. “If people are legitimately on their way to medical appointments, or to the grocery store (that’s what they are allowed to do). You will see police respond to complaints, if a group of five or more gathers, or somebody refuses to wear a mask, we will respond to those complaints.”
The chief went on to say the goal of the government now is to get compliance with the new lockdown orders rather than turning it into a policing matter.
The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police has indicated police will not be likely conducting random checks of drivers or anyone walking along the street. As well, they won’t be demanding notes from employers indicating that you are an essential worker.
Still, police have the right to stop someone if there are reasonable and probable grounds that an offense has been committed under the new regulations.