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Province promises hefty fines for violating COVID-19 emergency order

Anyone being charged under the province’s emergency powers is required to identify themselves, Ontario’s solicitor general says.

Sylvia Jones says people could face hefty fines if they refuse to give their proper name, date of birth and address if asked by a provincial offences officer. That includes police officers, First Nations constables, special constables and municipal by-law enforcement officers.

Refusing to correctly identify oneself carries a fine of $750 or $1,000 for obstructing any person in exercising a power if a provincial offences officer issues a ticket.

The temporary power was approved by the province yesterday, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

Further, failure to comply with an emergency order could carry punishments of up to one-year in jail or a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual, $500,000 for a director of a corporation, or $10,000,000 for a corporation itself.

“It is the responsibility of all Ontarians to do their part and respect the emergency orders in place,” Jones said in a statement.

Ontario confirmed 260 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the official provincial total to 1,966.  The tally includes 33 deaths and 534 cases that are considered resolved.

Meanwhile, the province is changing testing guidelines at the province’s long-term care homes to try to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Under the new rules, which took effect Monday, every resident and staff member who shows symptoms of the virus must be tested, even after an outbreak has already been declared in the home.

Previously, testing was only conducted on the first few symptomatic residents to establish the existence of an outbreak.

A CBC News analysis found the number of COVID-19-linked deaths in long-term care homes in the province is more than double the official count.

Temporary COVID-19 unit

A hospital in Burlington is building a temporary COVID-19 unit in anticipation of a surge of patients.

Joseph Brant Hospital says the structure being built on hospital grounds will have 93 beds.

The hospital’s chief of staff, Dr. Ian Preyra, says the pandemic response unit will allow the hospital to keep its critical care and high acuity beds for the sickest patients.

The Ministry of Health is also allowing all public hospitals to lease or acquire temporary space in institutions or other buildings such as hotels or retirement homes.

The ministry says hospitals could use those spaces to house COVID-19 or other patients.

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