RCMP Response to the Port Huron Float Down
Date: August 11, 2020
Fully releasable (ATIP)? Yes
Branch / Agency: RCMP
Issue: The media is reporting that the annual Port Huron Float Down is scheduled to take place on August 16, 2020 on the St. Clair River, despite COVID-19 related border restrictions.
- On March 21, 2020, the Canada-U.S. border was closed to non-essential travel in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 between the two countries. The border remains closed.
- The RCMP is dedicated to protecting Canadians and maintains the primary border integrity mandate between the ports of entry.
- In the marine environment, the RCMP is focused on reducing the spread of COVID-19 by interdicting boaters on the water to: ensure compliance with existing border restrictions; screen persons under the Quarantine Act; and conduct examinations under the Customs Act.
- The Port Huron Float Down is an unsanctioned marine event, which presents heightened safety concerns to participants and other users of the waterways, including risks to COVID-19. The RCMP strongly discourages Canadian citizens from participating in this event.
- Foreign nationals remain prohibited from entering Canada on a discretionary basis. U.S. citizens who cross over into Canada will be interdicted, provided with the necessary personal protective equipment, undergo a COVID health screening, and returned to the United States. These individuals may also be subject to a fine.
- Canadian citizens will be considered returning travellers and subject to mandatory COVID-19 isolation requirements.
The media is reporting increased concerns with the 43rd annual Port Huron Float Down, scheduled to take place on August 16, 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The RCMP, in partnership with the Canadian Coast Guard, US Coast Guard, Ontario Provincial Police and Sarnia Police, has been involved in planning the response to Port Huron Float Down in the context of COVID-19.
U.S. citizens participating in the Float Down that cross over into Canada will: be subject to Canadian laws; complete COVID-19 health screenings and customs examinations; arrested pursuant to section 55(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and transported back to the United States. In addition, participants will be required to provide photo ID and wear a mask while being transported back to the United States. Individuals who refuse to be screened under the Quarantine Act will be arrested pursuant to section 18 of the Quarantine Act.
The Contraventions Regulations were amended to provide ticketing options to peace officers specific to the Quarantine Act with fines ranging from $250 to $1000. A peace officer can also address an offence by criminal charge. Offences include, but are not limited to, failure to present oneself to a screening officer at the nearest entry point, failure to disclose specified information concerning a listed communicable disease or vectors and failure to comply with an order prohibiting or subjecting to any condition the entry into Canada.
On March 21, 2020, the Government of Canada introduced border measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. These restrictions on all discretionary travel by foreign nationals into Canada have been extended to August 21, 2020. Travel restrictions apply to all modes of transportation whether at or between the ports of entry, including those arriving in Canada through the maritime environment.
The RCMP is dedicated to protecting Canadians and maintains the primary border integrity mandate between the ports of entry. In the marine environment, the RCMP is focused on reducing the spread of COVID-19 by interdicting boaters on the water to: ensure compliance with temporary border restrictions; to screen persons under the Quarantine Act; and to examine persons, goods and conveyances under the Customs Act. These efforts contribute to the monitoring and enforcement of the Canadian border and its waterways.
The RCMP’s activities are enhanced through domestic and international partnerships, including joint maritime programs with U.S.-based law enforcement agencies. Close consultation between the domestic and U.S.-based agencies has been maintained when responding to COVID-19 related questions, requests for information, complaints, reports of non-compliance, and similar operational issues. The RCMP, in conjunction with its domestic and U.S. partners, are conducting border patrols to ensure compliance with current travel restrictions, to enforce border legislation, and to detect and prevent criminal activity.
Throughout the COVID-19 response, Canadian authorities have maintained their capability to monitor vessel activity and develop maritime security intelligence along the East and West Coasts, as well as in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway System and the Arctic. This is enabled through a variety of means including Canada’s three dedicated Marine Security Operations Centres.
Prepared by: Sean McGillis, A/Executive Director Federal Policing Strategic Direction, 613-843-5914
Approved by: Mike Duheme, Deputy Commissioner Federal Policing, RCMP, 613-843-4627
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