SUDBURY -- A spot check on Highway 101 on April 17 uncovered five people who were violating the province's stay-at-home orders, Timmins police said Tuesday.

Police pulled the vehicle over near the Highway 655 intersection late in the evening, police said in a news release. The five people in the car were unrelated and each had a different address in Brantford.

"It was determined that each of the occupants was in breach of COVID protocols defined under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA)," the release said.

"Each occupant of the vehicle was served with a provincial offence notice."

This offence carries a fine of $880. This is the first time police in Timmins have laid charges in connection with the act.

They did so, the release said, because "the offence in question was an overt and intentional violation of the applicable statute."

Police have gone the education and warning route, the release said, adding that policy has "come and gone," as the provincial and local COVID situation has grown worse.

"The necessity for Timmins police officers to adopt a firmer approach when confronting such violations is deemed appropriate so that officers can better protect people from their own lack of good judgment and the indulgence in unsafe behaviours," the release said.

"That said, the Timmins Police Service is hopeful that residents will continue to police themselves responsibly and to adhere completely with the restrictions imposed to the benefit of their own situation and that of their family members."

"This is a public health issue that demands strict adherence," police added. "The responsibility to ensure compliance falls on local law enforcement: Timmins police and City of Timmins bylaw enforcement."