Do I have to answer police questions when I’m outdoors during COVID-19?

To deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, the government of Ontario has introduced special emergency rules. Some municipalities have also passed new bylaws to deal with the pandemic.

Make sure you understand these new rules in Ontario and in your municipality. Ontario's emergency rules give provincial offences officers extra powers to ask you questions to make sure you're following the rules.

Provincial offences officers include:

  • police officers
  • First Nations constables
  • special constables
  • municipal by-law enforcement officers

Questions and orders from provincial offences officers

Usually, you don't have to answer questions about your name, date of birth, and address. But the law is different during the COVID-19 pandemic. If a provincial offences officer is asking questions because they believe you're not following the emergency rules, then you must answer questions about your name, date of birth, and address. You don't have to answer any other questions.

Before you decide whether to answer these questions, you can ask the officer what law they believe you're breaking.

If the officer is asking you questions that are not about the emergency rules, then in most situations you don't have to answer. But even though you don't have to answer, in many cases, it can be helpful to at least give the officer your name and date of birth.

A provincial offences officer can also order you to leave a public event or gathering if the event or gathering is against the emergency rules.

If you're Black and you experience issues with the police, you can contact the Black Legal Action Centre at 1-877-736-9406.

Charges and fines

A police officer can charge you with a criminal offence for if you:

  • don't answer questions connected to the emergency rules
  • don't leave an illegal event or gathering when an officer tells you to leave

If this happens, you'll have to go to criminal court.

If you're caught breaking the emergency rules, a provincial offences officer can charge you with one or more provincial offences. They might give you a ticket or a that tells you to go to court. The maximum punishment for each is one year in jail, or a fine of up to $100,000.

Many municipalities have also passed their own by-laws with fines that may be different than the provincial amounts. Check the rules in your municipality.

If you continue to break the rules, you can be charged with a separate for each day that you break the rules.

Hide this website