Ontario has given law enforcement officers temporary new powers under the COVID-19 emergency measures and Sarnia has set up a hotline to report potential offenders.
City officials have been inundated with calls reporting individuals and businesses suspected of violating the emergency orders put in place to limit the virus’ spread.
The emergency orders prohibit organized public events, social gatherings of more than five people, use of most public amenities such as playgrounds and tennis courts, and the opening of non-essential businesses.
In response, City Hall and Sarnia Police have established an email and telephone hotline for residents to report concerns:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 1-877-4-SARNIA (1-877-472-7642) or 519-332-0330.
Both are monitored 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Meanwhile, the provincial government has given police, bylaw enforcement and First Nation officers a new and temporary power.
Anyone caught breaching a restriction under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act will be required to identify themselves with their correct name, date of birth and address if asked. Failing to comply carries a fine of $750.
Violating an emergency order could carry punishments of up to one-year imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual, $500,000 for a director of a corporation, and $10 million for a corporation.
City Hall says everyone has a personal responsibility to follow the emergency directives to help slow the spread of the pandemic.
“Don’t be a Covididiot,” said Mayor Mike Bradley. “Don’t call 911 unless it’s an emergency. If you have a concern about COVID 19 pandemic issues, use the Hotline email address or phone number to report.”
Residents reporting an individual or business not complying with the emergency orders are asked to include as much detail as possible, including your own name, date of the suspected violation, and the time and location.
Bylaw Services will investigate all concerns reported as appropriate but, given the number of calls expected, may not report back to individual complainants.
Sarnia Police Chief Norm Hansen offered his personal thanks to everyone who has taken the pandemic seriously.
“If we can all do our part, we will beat this deadly virus together and be able to return to our normal lives sooner,” he said.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 is encouraged to use the Provincial self-assessment tool available at: