With the worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic, any of us could end up in hospital, but could we also end up in jail?

As reported by local media, a woman in Quebec infected with COVID-19 was arrested by police after she didn’t remain indoors. In Quebec, police will be ordered to arrest people who have the virus but who aren’t self-isolating. In Ontario, provincial police are warning people about fines for refusing to limit social gatherings or close certain businesses.

Closer to home, in Surrey, BC, we have seen media reports that a Bikram yoga studio lost its business licence for continuing to offer classes after being ordered not to.

Quarantine Act

It may surprise people to discover that Canada has a Quarantine Act which was designed to help prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases. Some of what the federal law includes, are:

  • Fines of up to $1 million dollars or 3 years in jail for causing “a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while willfully or recklessly contravening the Act or the regulations.”
  • The federal Health Minister may create a quarantine station anywhere in Canada and can designate any place in Canada as a quarantine facility. The person whose place is so designated will be compensated for the use of it.
  • Travellers must answer screening questions – all questions – and answer truthfully or they can be isolated. Travellers who refuse to be isolated can be arrested.
  • People who report on others to screening officers, quarantine officers, or environmental health officers can ask that their own identity or characteristics that may identify them, not be disclosed to their employer or to the person they informed on.

If you’re active on social media, you’ve likely seen images or videos of people in large gatherings, in spite of public health orders for us to social distance.

Please do your part. Follow the advice of professionals, and let’s stay healthy!