OTTAWA – Ottawa police have had to adapt quickly to constantly changing policies regarding interprovincial travel, the stricter Stay-at-Home provincial orders hoped to stem the fast-rising numbers of COVID-19 during the third wave.
The week started off with police checkpoints at almost all interprovincial crossings in the City of Ottawa, checking with travellers to ensure their movement was essential under stricter Stay-at-Home regulations enacted over the weekend.
Yesterday (April 20), those regulations lightened.
“Effective this evening (April 20) at 8 p.m., the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) will no longer maintain a 24/7 presence at interprovincial crossings (bridges and ferries),” the OPS released in a statement yesterday. “Instead, the OPS will deploy officers on a rotating schedule of checkpoints moving throughout all City of Ottawa interprovincial crossings on a daily basis, until the expiry of the provincial order.”
Since the onset of the border operations, the OPS worked closely with Ottawa Public Health (OPH) along with local stakeholders and interprovincial stakeholders (the City of Ottawa, the City of Gatineau, the Ontario Provincial Police, etc.) to assess any local public health, traffic and safety impacts.
“The assessment resulted in today’s operational changes,” the OPS said. “We have been and will remain focused on our stated goal of ensuring our education, engagement and enforcement actions support improved public health outcomes and respect the concerns of our most marginalized and racialized communities all while enabling compliance with the Provincial Order restricting interprovincial travel.”
The operational changes announced yesterday are designed to better ensure the health and safety of all, to minimize delays and/or hazards for travelers and to ensure essential workers can get to their places of employment on time.
“The OPS will continue to work with OPH and our partners to conduct daily assessments on the border operations,” the OPS said. “The public will be notified of any material changes to the border operations. We remind all members of the public to respect the Ontario Stay-at-Home order.”
On Sunday, April 18 the OPS had announced checkpoints at all interprovincial bridges would be staffed 24-hours a day.
“In support of new public health orders issued by the Government of Ontario, the OPS will begin screening travellers at all Ottawa-area interprovincial border crossing beginning Monday, April 19 at 12:01 a.m.,” the OPS said last Sunday (April 18). “Officers will be stationed on a 24-7 basis on the Ontario side of the Champlain, Portage, Chaudière and Macdonald-Cartier bridges as well as the Quyon and the Bourbonnais ferries.”
West Carleton Online visited the Quyon Ferry crossing today (April 21) around 4 p.m. and there was no sign of an OPS checkpoint.
This is a reminder that the circumstances for which a person can travel into Ontario from Quebec, per the Ontario government directives, include:
- the person’s principal residence is in Ontario
- the person is travelling to perform work in Ontario
- the person is transporting goods into or through Ontario as part of the operation of a business that involves the transportation of goods
- the person is travelling into Ontario for the purpose of exercising an Aboriginal or treaty right
- the person’s health makes it necessary to travel into Ontario to obtain health care or social services
- the travel is necessary for a humanitarian or compassionate reason
“Beyond identification to operate a motor vehicle, there are no requirements for travellers to provide documentation to officers such as a note from an employer or physician,” the OPS said. “Individuals will be required to provide their name, address and reason for travelling. These measures are in support of new public health orders issued by the Government of Ontario. We are working in close collaboration with our community, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and other City of Ottawa agencies (OC Transpo, Roads/Transportation, etc.) to ensure these authorities are only used for their intended purpose of supporting public health orders and public health outcomes.”