VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver council at a virtual meeting Monday unanimously approved special measures which include fines up to $1,000 for individuals failing to honour safety orders to stand at least two metres away from anyone else during the coronavirus pandemic.
Businesses can also be fined up to $50,000 for violating COVID-19 related orders.
“This is serious,” Mayor Kennedy Stewart says in a tweet. “Now is the time to: Shut down, Stay put, Save lives.”
City manager Sadhu Johnston said not all penalties will be the maximum.
The time for asking nicely is over.
Just now, Council passed new enforcement measures including fines of up to $50,000 for anyone found in violation of a City Order.
This is serious.
— Kennedy Stewart (@kennedystewart) March 23, 2020
“If we found a cafe where maybe someone was drinking a cup of coffee at the counter, that might might be a little bit steep of a fine, so we just might issue a ticket for the lesser amount,” he added.
City lawyer Grant Murray said people caught standing too close to others in parks or on beaches will face tickets up to $1,000.
“This is in the nature of the type of ticket you’d get from a cop if you were caught speeding,” he added.
Police officers and most firefighters have the power to issue the new fines.
Such tickets could be disputed in court, Murray said.
Council’s decision follows a weekend during which videos circulated online and in social media of people throughout the city not keeping a safe distance in public places.
Over the weekend, the Vancouver Park Board ordered all recreational facilities within city parks and beaches to close. Logs were removed from popular beaches to prevent people from sitting too close together.
The province ordered all salons, spas, and other personal care services to close over the weekend, though it stopped short of ordering all non-essential businesses to shutter during the pandemic.
The city shut down all dine-in options at local establishments last week. Inspectors visited more than 1,600 restaurants over the weekend and identified 14 cases of non-compliance with the order, says a city release.
“The city is pleased to see how responsive restaurant owners have been to date and thanks the vast majority of businesses that are taking direction from the city and from public health officials seriously,” the city adds.
Three new COVID-19 related deaths were reported in B.C. Monday, bringing the provincial total to 13 and the national count to 23.