SAULT STE. MARIE -- The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service says it will maintain its proactive and complaint driven public health enforcement initiative.

This comes after the provincial government granted enhanced authority under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA.)

Those new powers allow law enforcement to stop vehicles and ask a person's reason for leaving home, where they are going, and to provide their home address.

"We will not be conducting random stops of vehicles and or individuals strictly for the reason of enforcing COVID regulations," says Sault Ste. Marie Police spokesman Lincoln Louttit, adding local police will continue to observe complaint driven enforcement as it has since the beginning of the pandemic.

Playgrounds and other outdoor recreation areas are closed under the new public health restrictions announced by the Ford Government. However, Sault Police will not be conducting surveillance of playgrounds and other outdoor spaces.

"Our officers will not be patrolling playgrounds specifically to monitor compliance," says Louttit.

"However, if we do get a call (about) 10 people playing basketball at a park somewhere, our officers will respond as soon as they can based on priority calls, and they will use their discretion as they have throughout this entire pandemic."

Sault Ste. Marie city councillor Matthew Shoemaker, who is a lawyer, is behind the Sault Police decision to maintain the status quo on COVID enforcement.

"Just driving down the street to go to grocery stores, which are open, to go to daycares, which are open, be with people who live alone, which is allowable and those types of activities…if the Province is going to allow them, they certainly can't ask the police to stop you when you're in the midst of them," says Shoemaker, adding that even emergency orders must follow the Constitution.