Mounties to enforce Quarantine Act, arrest offenders as a 'last resort'
TORONTO -- The RCMP has been asked to visit the homes of people who are required to self-isolate for two weeks after returning to Canada from abroad, to ensure compliance with the Quarantine Act that came into force last month.
On Friday, the RCMP revealed the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has requested their assistance in enforcing the March 25 order, which requires everyone arriving in Canada to quarantine for 14 days as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to the national police force, PHAC will conduct initial verifications by phone, email, or text and RCMP officers will only check in on those individuals who may require a “physical verification.”
During the visit, the RCMP said its officers will attempt to verify the individual is physically inside their home while maintaining physical distancing.
“Our officers will speak to the person, inform them of the law and explain the importance of compliance, as well as the potential consequences of non-compliance,” a statement from the RCMP read Friday.
Those who disobey the quarantine order could face fines of up to $750,000 and up to six months in prison. Additionally, anyone who causes a “risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm” to another person by “willfully or recklessly” contravening the act could be fined up to $1 million and face three years imprisonment.
Currently, the RCMP said individuals can be issued a court appearance notice or summons, instead of being taken into custody under the Quarantine Act.
According to the RCMP statement, arrests will be a “last resort” based on the circumstance and the officer’s risk assessment. The police force said they would prefer not to arrest individuals failing to comply with the order because it puts their officers at risk.
“Choosing to ignore mandatory isolation and quarantine orders is not only against the law, it’s also putting citizens, first responders, health professionals and the most vulnerable at risk of exposure to the virus,” RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki said.
“Collectively, everyone in Canada has a role to play to ensure compliance with isolation and physical distancing measures.”
The Quarantine Act was enacted for returning travellers in late March, after the federal government identified international travel as one of the major reasons for the novel coronavirus’ spread in Canada. Under the act, the Canadian government can impose significant measures in order to protect its citizens.