The Ottawa Police Service is praising the actions of residents and businesses during the first three months of the COVID-19 restrictions and the physical distancing guidelines.
And as the COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, Insp. Trish Ferguson says Ottawa Police will aim to continue to educate residents on the “right decisions” to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
Malls, bar and restaurant patios and barber shops and hair salons were allowed to open over the weekend as Ottawa entered Stage 2 of the reopening plan. Ontario also expanded the social gathering limits from five people to ten people.
Ottawa Police say officers will continue to support Ottawa Bylaw and Ottawa Public Health to enforce the COVID-19 measures and physical distancing rules during the pandemic. Police will respond to calls if needed.
“I have to say that the community has been remarkably well-behaved and patient throughout this whole process, and with the easing of restrictions we’re gong to see changes in behaviour,” said Insp. Ferguson during an interview with CTV News at Six anchor Stefan Keyes.
“It’s the emerging normal, and we all need to keep ourselves aware as well as to what’s acceptable and what isn’t.”
Ottawa Police have been supporting public health with implementing and enforcing the regulations for physical distancing and capacity in establishments.
“We will simply respond should we be called to situations, and our goal really is going to be providing people with the information to make the right decisions to keep everybody safe,” said Insp. Ferguson on Sunday evening.
Ottawa Police will also be conducting proactive patrols in support of Ottawa Bylaw to make sure people are following the rules. Bylaw Services has provided police with a list of parks and areas that have been a challenge in the past.
“We want to make sure that people have all the information to make the right decision, but when enforcement is required that is something that is an option as well.”
Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services has the power under the Ontario Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to issue fines for violating the COVID-19 measures, including using play equipment and gathering in groups of people larger than 10.
Policing one another
CTV News at Six Anchor Stefan Keyes noted there have been reports of people trying to police one another about the COVID-19 restrictions. Keyes asked Insp. Ferguson how people should approach keeping others accountable.
“We have had a few calls and emotions are running high. This is a new and unprecedented time for a lot of people, and so we are dealing with people who will be calling on each other because some people are taking this very seriously and others maybe less seriously,” said Insp. Ferguson.
“The accountability piece I think is if you’re unable to get the message across to your neighbour, to people in your community, then certainly 311, bylaw or police are a resource that’s available to you.”
Insp. Ferguson also had some advice for residents as the COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed and the COVID-19 pandemic enters a fourth month.
“I think we all need to practice a little bit of patience and understanding, because we’re all going through this together. There’s no script for this, so we’re learning as we go as a community.”