Metro Vancouver Transit Police have issued more than $74,00o in COVID-19 violation tickets since the start of British Columbia’s mandatory mask policy.
The mandate was ordered by the provincial health officer in November 2020, calling for mask usage in all indoor spaces.
Sergeant Clint Hampton tells Daily Hive that for transit, this includes not only vessels like the SkyTrain, SeaBus, and buses but also their respective shelters, loading stations, and platforms.
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A total of 228 mask-related tickets were issued in 2020, and 94 mask-related tickets have been issued since the start of this year, totalling $74,060 in fines. Those found without a mask on public transit are subject to a $230 fine, and there’s a dispute process for people who believe they were unjustly fined.
Hampton says that transit police have also experienced “an increase in obstructive behaviours” as well as “officers being assaulted” when they interact with people who refuse to follow the regulations.
Anti-maskers, he adds, have also been “immediately confrontational,” creating further risks and challenges for police.
“Officers enforcing the regulations are already at an increased personal risk by having to deal with people who are unmasked and whose health status is unknown during a pandemic,” he explains.
“Further causing concern is that often these anti-maskers are immediately confrontational and in some circumstances physically combative with officers from the onset of the interaction.”
Earlier this week, a widely shared video of a police officer arresting a maskless passenger on the SkyTrain made rounds on social media, highlighting the challenges of dealing with anti-maskers.
Hampton adds that actions such as obstructing or assaulting a police officer can result in additional criminal charges, leading to negative effects “that will far exceed the end of the pandemic.