Photo Credit: Mika Baumeister via Unsplash

 

At this point, we all know that staying home is crucial to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, I think law enforcement officials and those calling the shots on lockdown rules should have a bit more empathy than what was demonstrated towards Matthew Steeves and his wife last week. 

 

Steeves and his wife were charged $880 in Kingsville, Ontario for playing Pokemon GO from the safety of their car in an empty church parking lot. The couple live together with their two kids and claim they have been strict about following the COVID-19 restrictions; they haven’t seen anyone outside of their bubble in months and stay close to home.

 

The Steeves family assumed that travelling around their neighbourhood in the family’s minivan, with only members of their family that they live with in the car, would not cause them any hassle. However, the OPP officer who handed them out a hefty ticket thought otherwise. 

 

In general, I am not one to condone acting against the COVID-19 restrictions, but in this case I am with the Steeves family. I see their frustration and disbelief because they were travelling with their family and remained in the vehicle for the entire outing. A quick drive seems like a reasonable thing to do in order to blow off some steam, catch a break and see scenery that is outside of the four walls of your living space.

 

This feels like a bit of a nit-picky reason to ticket someone. No one is standing at the door at Walmart to ticket people who are buying non-essential groceries. I haven’t heard anything about tickets being handed out to big-box stores that fail to clean their equipment, aisles and conveyor belts properly. There doesn’t seem to be a problem with walking around your neighbourhood and I do not see anyone getting fined for walking their dogs (except for that one couple in Quebec, but that is a whole other story). If none of these activities have warranted tickets, why ticket the Steeves family? 

 

The fine seems excessive to say the least, especially considering how many families have been struggling economically since the onset of the pandemic. No matter how you slice it, $880 is a big chunk of change for trying to catch some Pokemon from your own vehicle. 

 

Some fights are worth picking, there is no doubt. Charging anti-maskers that are actually contributing to the spread of misinformation and COVID-19 is one thing, but charging a family trying to catch a break is a bit aggressive. Were they really contributing to the spread of COVID-19 from their vehicle? Probably not. Is this an instance of intimidation and setting an example for the rest of Ontarians to follow? Most likely.