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Most of us… support fining self-isolation rule breakers

It’s now well known that in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, people need to stay home. And a recent poll shows that the majority of Canadians support strict fines for those refusing to comply.

Research Co., a public opinion firm, surveyed 1,000 Canadians across the country and found that seven in 10 respondents believe those who ignore their quarantine or self-isolation period should pay fines. These findings follow the implementation of a federal government emergency order under the Quarantine Act. The recent measure makes it so that travellers returning to Canada have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Those who fail to comply with this order can face a maximum fine of $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months. If the individual jeopardizes another’s life “while wilfully or recklessly contravening the act,” they could face a $1 million fine and/or up to three years in prison.

Public backing towards charging people who’ve ignored their quarantine orders was highest in Atlantic Canada (79 per cent), followed by British Columbia (77 per cent). While most Canadians favour fines as a penalty, respondents were divided on whether or not jail time was an effective solution for misbehaviour. Forty-five per cent were equally supportive and opposed to this measure.

However, a larger number of people felt strongly about imposing penalties for those attempting to capitalize on the pandemic.

Fifty six per cent of Canadians said they would be willing to authorize jail time for people who bought items and resold them at a higher price and 79 per cent said that they felt a monetary fine was also an appropriate punishment. For those offering bogus “cures” against the virus, seventy four per cent of respondents endorsed jail time as a course of action with 84 per cent supporting fines.