SUDBURY -- The Sault Police Service has joined other forces in the north in moving from education to fines to enforce the provincial stay-at-home order.

In a news release Tuesday, police said three people have been issued provincial offence notices for violating gathering restrictions, and five more people face similar tickets.

Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), anyone found attending an organized gathering could face a fine of up to $1,000 and anyone found organizing a gathering could face a minimum fine of $10,000.

Police said they were told of an organized gathering taking place on St. Mary’s River Drive on April 18.

"Upon attending, officers identified and spoke with eight people who were taking part in the gathering," police said in the release.

"As a result of the investigation into the gathering, three people have been issued provincial offences notices under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Officers are currently working on issuing the five other individuals with a provincial offences notice."

More tickets will be issued for anyone flouting the rules, police said.

"The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service is actively investigating planned public gatherings," the release said. "During the current provincial lockdown, indoor and outdoor gatherings are restricted."

While not mentioning any group by name, anti-lockdown protests have been held recently in the north, including the Sault. Police say violators will be fined.

“In recent days we have been clear with the community, anyone found to be violating the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) will be fined accordingly,” Chief Hugh Stevenson said in the release.

“A large public gathering goes directly against the mandate of the EMCPA and its intent which is to ensure the health of our community. Anyone attending an event such as this will be fined.”

Algoma Public Health reminds all residents that there continues to be ongoing risk of contracting COVID-19 in local communities and variants of concern continue to spread.

"The B.1.1.7 strain has been found in Algoma and it spreads much more aggressively and can cause more severe disease, even in younger people," the release said.

"The safest way, and your first step in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Algoma, is to stay at home. COVID-19 transmission can still happen outdoors if people are not staying two metres apart and wearing masks."