After previous warnings from the BC government that tougher measures were coming for those who don’t follow the province’s rules around COVID-19, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said police and other provincial enforcement officers can now issue $2,000 fines for owners or organizers contravening the guidelines.
“These orders will help us put a stop to the selfish acts of a small minority of British Columbians who are threatening to erode the progress our province has made in controlling COVID-19,” said Farnworth during a press conference on Friday.
He added that police and enforcement officers also be able to issue $200 violation tickets to individuals not following the direction of police or enforcement staff at events or who refuse to comply with requests to follow PHO orders or safe operating procedures, or respond with abusive behaviour.
The enforcement focus will be on $2,000 fines to owners, operators, and organizers for contraventions of the BC’s rules on gatherings and events, Farnworth noted.
This includes hosting a private party or public event in excess of 50 people, failing to provide appropriate hand sanitation and washroom facilities, failing to provide sufficient space in the venue for physical distancing,failing to obtain a list of names and contacts at large events, or having more than five guests gathered in a vacation accommodation.
The new measures are effective immediately.
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“While I’m disappointed these measures are now necessary, I am taking this action to give police agencies and provincial enforcement officers the ability to take action against those who are putting people’s lives at risk,” said Farnworth.
In addition to enabling action from police, Farmworth said the province is enlisting compliance and enforcement staff from provincial ministries to support enforcement and help issue tickets for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes liquor, cannabis and gaming inspectors, community safety unit inspectors, and conservation officers.
When required, police and other provincial enforcement officers will also be able to actively enforce the order and ticket a series of other infractions, including:
- $200 violation tickets for individuals who actively encourage others to attend gatherings or events that do not comply with established requirements, or refuse to leave or disperse when directed to do so by enforcement officers.
- $200 violation tickets for individuals who refuse to comply with requests to follow the PHO order or safe operating procedures of a restaurant, bar, or other licensed establishment, or respond with abusive behaviour towards employees.
If violation tickets do not act as a deterrent, or in cases of particularly egregious contraventions or for repeat offenders, Farnworth said police can recommend charges in relation to the offence. On conviction, judicial penalties of up to $10,000 may be levied.