ford-backtracks-on-new-police-covid-19-powers-amid-intense-backlash

Ford Backtracks on New Police COVID-19 Powers Amid Intense Backlash

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford attends a meeting of the premiers in Montreal on Dec. 7, 2018. (Martin Ouellet-Diotte/AFP via Getty Images)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford attends a meeting of the premiers in Montreal on Dec. 7, 2018. (Martin Ouellet-Diotte/AFP via Getty Images)

TORONTO—Furious criticism of new anti-pandemic powers that allow police in Ontario to stop any motorist or pedestrian and ask where they live and why they’re not home prompted the provincial government on Saturday to reconsider the measures.

As the number of infected people in hospital reached record levels, Premier Doug Ford tweeted that the measures, which also included shutting down all outdoor recreational facilities and playgrounds, would be clarified.

“Ontario’s enhanced restrictions were always intended to stop large gatherings where spread can happen,” Ford said. “Our regulations will be amended to allow playgrounds, but gatherings outside will still be enforced.”

Earlier, a government source speaking on background told The Canadian Press that a “clarification” of the police powers was pending final approval.

“We have heard a lot of feedback on this in the last 24 hours in terms of the scope and applicability,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Civil libertarians, and pundits have attacked new anti-pandemic restrictions announced Friday by Ford as misguided.

The added police powers aimed at enforcing stay-at-home orders, they said, were overkill.

The closing of outdoor spaces puzzled many public health experts, who said the measures didn’t make sense.

“Outdoor activities are vital for mental and physical health, especially with stay-at-home orders,” Dr. Isaac Bogoch, who sits on the province’s COVID−19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, said in a tweet.

“Science is clear: Outdoor COVID transmission is extremely rare.”

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