EPS prepared to use new powers to ticket for physical distancing violations
EDMONTON -- Edmonton Police Service hasn’t ticketed any residents for breaking the two-metre rule yet, but an inspector says it is preparing to.
Currently, the EPS is sorting through a backlog of complaints related to Edmontonians breaking physical distancing and large gathering rules, prioritizing them by security and risk to public.
“For the most part, the public are being mindful. They’re being respectful of the risks around COVID-19 and the spread of the virus itself,” said Insp. Ray Akbar of the detachment’s pandemic field response team.
According to Akbar, police were focusing on making sure the public knows the rules and EPS’ options to enforce them with tickets between $1,000 and half-a-million dollars.
“We still have to make sure we are vigilant in making sure people understand the parameters around social and physical distancing.”
Larger fines could be issued for grosser or repeated violations, the Alberta government has said. In those situations, Alberta Health Services is considered the lead investigator and would request police assistance or enforcement.
But in regards to policing Alberta’s public health orders in the general public, Akbar said officers would be using discretion.
“Common sense prevails.”
These are some of rules police and community peace officers can now enforce:
- Gatherings are not allowed to exceed 15 people;
- Two-metre distancing between everyone in public (except parents and children), and people who don’t live together in private spaces (this excludes carpooling between family members and colleagues);
- Non-essential businesses and recreational or entertainment facilities are not allowed to offer service;
- Anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 or exhibiting symptoms must remain in their homes and stay two metres away from anyone else inside for a minimum of 10 days; and
- Anyone returning from international travel or who had close contact with a virus-positive person must quarantine for 14 days.
A full list of the orders can be found online.
So far, grocery stores and transit centres have been identified as “hot spots” for complaints, but EPS continues to monitor. It has not deployed any extra officers.
Two EPS members — one unsworn and one sworn officer — have tested positive for COVID-19. Several others are in self-isolation for travel or symptom-related reasons, Akbar said.