Promoting and attending gatherings that contravene BC’s provincial health orders just got more expensive.
On Thursday, the province said that effective immediately, an amendment to the Violation Ticket Administration and Fine Regulation raises the fine for promoting and attending a non-compliant gathering or event from $230 to $575.
“Over the last several months, it’s become clear that for some, the risk of a $230 violation ticket isn’t enough to deter attendance at events that violate the PHO order,” said BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth in a release. “I am disappointed that a small minority of British Columbians continue to put their health and the health of others at risk by attending unsafe gatherings.”
Police and provincial enforcement authorities will be able to issue these new fines immediately.
The current fine for those who organize or host a prohibited event remains the same at $2,300, and a $230 fine will continue to apply to a range of COVID-19 violation measures, including failing to wear a mask and failing to abide by patron conditions, the province noted.
The increased fine aimed at non-compliant events reflects that this behaviour is “generally more risky” than other offences in the $230 category, but less egregious than the offences in the $2,300 category, the province said.
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The increase in fines comes the same week that BC health officials announced that orders around gatherings and events have been amended to allow for outdoor religious gatherings.
The order was amended on Tuesday, and included more than 20 different requirements and rules that must be followed.
“The Provincial Health Officer’s orders on gatherings and events has been amended today to provide a variance for outdoor worship services,” officials said in a statement. “Worship service organizers must ensure COVID-19 safety plans are in place for all outdoor services and all attendees follow these plans.”
Gatherings must be held outdoors and cannot be at a private residence or vacation accommodation. A maximum of 50 people and 50 vehicles can be present at once. An additional two people can be present to ensure that the gatherings are compliant with COVID-19 safety protocols.