In Ottawa, someone was fined for walking their dog in an off-limits park. In Rouyn-Noranda, Que., non-essential travel is banned. In Toronto, any two people who don’t live together can’t get too close. In Montreal, busking is forbidden on transit.
As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to grow in Canada, different provinces and cities have set up different rules to slow the spread of the virus. Public health authorities across the country continue to make their own judgment calls about how best to contain the virus in their own jurisdictions.
Last week, for example, British Columbia's provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she wasn’t sure if there was any evidence that a recent bylaw passed in Toronto would be effective.
The bylaw, signed by Toronto Mayor John Tory, requires people who don't reside in the same household to stay two metres apart in parks and public squares. The city has also closed parking lots and playgrounds, and said April 4 that its bylaw officers have responded to hundreds of complaints in recent weeks.
Dr. Henry, however, said she was more concerned about indoor transmission in B.C. than outdoor.
“We know that this virus is mostly transmitted to those we are close with in an enclosed setting,” she said. “When we’re outside in a park, the risk of transmission is actually much less than when we’re inside. So I don’t want to spend a lot of time policing people outside."
While B.C.ers continue to be encouraged by their public health officer to enjoy the outdoors while practicing physical distancing, people elsewhere are confronting different measures.
Ontario, with 4,347 confirmed cases, has ordered all recreational facilities, including parks, off-leash dog parks and sports fields closed. It has banned gatherings of more than five people, even private ones, unless everyone is a member of the same household.
The City of Ottawa said it issued 43 tickets just this weekend to people in parks and gathering in groups, and responded to hundreds of reports of people ignoring restrictions.
Different provinces and cities have set up different rules to slow the spread of the virus. Public health authorities across the country continue to make their own judgment calls about how best to contain the virus in their own jurisdictions.
One man in Ottawa was fined $880 for reportedly walking his dog in a local park on Sunday morning.
Most non-essential businesses are also closed in Ontario. On April 3, the province tightened those restrictions, to include workplaces like construction sites that are not exempted for things such as health care, transit or energy.
B.C. Premier John Horgan has said a full lockdown like Ontario would be difficult to carry out.
With 1,266 confirmed cases, the province has opted to take a more sectoral approach to business and industry closures, like closing barber shops and nail salons, and ordering long-term care home staff not to work in multiple facilities.
On Monday, Canada’s chief public health officer said the situation in B.C. as it currently stands does call for some very “cautious optimism.”
Dr. Theresa Tam relayed the “good news” that the province recorded a lower number of cases this week compared to last. “While it is still too early to tell, this continues to encourage us that our collective action can slow the spread of this pandemic,” she said.
“And although there is cautious optimism, we must not relax any of our efforts, from practicing physical distancing (to) frequent handwashing and covering coughs, to protect our most vulnerable.”
As of the morning of April 6, just four provinces contain the vast majority of the 15,806 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada: Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and B.C. All other provinces and territories have less than 300 confirmed cases.
Quebec, with 8,580 confirmed cases, the most of all jurisdictions, has implemented travel restrictions within its own territory. Provincial police have been setting up checkpoints to control entry into these regions.
Travel is banned in and out of Quebec's Outaouais region near Ottawa, and other areas in the Laurentians, the Lanaudière, the Charlevoix and around cities such as Rouyn-Noranda and La Tuque.
The City of Montreal has its own rules, for instance banning non-essential functions in its Metro subway system, such as busking and fundraising.
Mayor-mobile & megaphone ready if needed to encourage physical distancing, keeping out of parking lots, playgrounds, sports facilities & thank those doing so. Everyone I saw my walk today respected 6ft. 🙏 thx to @CHCHNews @DeputyWilkie @mmbattaglia4 spreading the message pic.twitter.com/JhnC6hQcyJ— Marianne Meed Ward (@MariannMeedWard) April 5, 2020
Meanwhile, police in Halifax issued 39 tickets over the weekend to people violating provincial laws in Nova Scotia, and say they have responded to 698 calls since the emergency was declared.
The mayor of Burlington, Ont., Marianne Meed Ward, tweeted a photo of herself carrying a megaphone, saying she was ready to remind people of Ontario's rules if necessary.
“Mayor-mobile and megaphone ready if needed to encourage physical distancing, keeping out of parking lots, playgrounds, sports facilities and thank those doing so,” she wrote.
“Everyone I saw (on) my walk today respected six feet (distance).”