SUDBURY -- The Porcupine Health Unit has issued a class order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, giving it the authority to enforce quarantine requirements for groups and individuals.

The order is effective immediately and will remain in effect until Dr. Lianne Catton, the medical office of health, determines the order is no longer required.

"Throughout the pandemic, individuals with COVID-19 or close contacts of confirmed cases in our region have shared important information and followed public health recommendations to reduce the risk of spread to others," the health unit said in a news release Friday.

"However, with the increasing number of variants of concern circulating in the province and a potential third wave in the spring, the PHU is preparing to ensure they are able to enforce, if needed, the critical public health measure of self-isolation to protect our communities."

“A key role of public health in controlling the spread of COVID-19 is to identify, contact, and ensure those testing positive for the virus and their close contacts are isolating as quickly as possible,” Catton said in the release. “It is important that our district follows all public health measures, and when individuals who are required to self-isolate by public health are not following the rules, we need to be able to take additional and immediate action.”

The order applies to everyone in or the health unit's region who are required by public health to self-isolate, including anyone who has a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.

It also applies to anyone with new symptoms (even mild symptoms) or worsening symptoms of COVID-19, have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting the results of their test. People with COVID symptoms within the past 10 days or who are a close contact of a person identified with symptoms, even if they do not themselves have any symptoms of COVID-19.

Anyone who is a parent of someone with symptoms are responsible for ensuring their children under age 16 follow the restrictions.

"The Porcupine Health Unit, with support from police services and bylaw officers, will enforce the order," the release said. "Failure to comply with this order is an offence for which you may be charged, or liable to a fine of $880 (ticket) to a maximum of $5,000 for every day or part of each day on which the offence occurs or continues to occur."

Additional COVID-19 information can be found on the Porcupine Health Unit’s website.