'An extreme last resort': Police reluctant to ticket, arrest COVID-19 rule-breakers

The government warnings to Canadians to keep their distance and stay home — especially if they have recently been abroad — are being delivered in the sternest terms.

"The duration of this crisis will be determined by the choices we make right now. So, if you want this to last shorter, then do your part," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the public in his daily briefing in Ottawa on Tuesday.

"If people do not follow these guidelines, we will put in place much more stringent measures."

But so far, the threats of stiff fines and even criminal charges for COVID-19 scofflaws appear to be mostly tough talk, as authorities opt for persuasion over punishment.

A survey of select police forces across the country found little evidence that officers are busting up large gatherings or ticketing business owners who defy government calls to shutter non-essential services while the outbreak runs its course.


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