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Hotline tips leads to Sarnia man being charged under emergency measures

Troy Shantz Sarnia Police have charged a 72-year-old man with failing to self-quarantine after returning from a trip out of the country.
Sarnia Police headquarters
Sarnia Police headquarters

Troy Shantz

Sarnia Police have charged a 72-year-old man with failing to self-quarantine after returning from a trip out of the country.

City bylaw officer visited the man’s residence on March 31 and warned him he needed to quarantine himself for 14 days.

But on April 6, the city’s COVID-19 hotline received a tip he was still leaving his home.

Officers from the Sarnia Police COPPS unit went to the man’s residence. When they found he wasn’t home they waited.

When he arrived he was issued a ticket for failing to comply with the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

The $750 fine comes with surcharges that bring the total fine to $880.

“As society continues to grapple with this disease it is imperative that everyone does their part to ensure that they do not spread or catch the disease,” said Const. Giovanni Sottosanti.

Sarnia’s new COVID-19 tip line received 200 complaints its first five days of operation.

“On average we’re probably getting about … 40 to 60 complaints a day,” said bylaw enforcement supervisor Adam MacDonald.

“Calls come in, complaints come in. We go out, we respond. We knock on doors, we educate people.”

Police and bylaw officers were tasked last week with enforcing a long list of new rules designed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Among other things, 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. Fines start at $750.

“I know, people are going to start thinking this is getting out of hand,” Const. Sottosanti said. “But people have not been listening. Unfortunately the next step is always enforcement.”

Police, bylaw enforcement and First Nation officers can’t be everywhere, which is why the COVID-19 tip line is important, he said.

“We’re truly asking for the public to do their part. Short-term pain, long-term gain.”

City Hall also has six to eight bylaw officers out on the street each day, MacDonald said.

City Police report an 18% decline overall in the number of calls for service in March, which is when the pandemic spread through the city.

But the number of calls for domestic violence, family disputes and disturbing the peace are up a bit this year, Sottosanti added.

Officers have tried to modify their approach to policing, which doesn’t always allow for social distancing. They also have a “very limited quantity” of surgical masks available, he added.

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