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Pushing boundaries on physical distancing could prompt closures, crackdown: Farnworth

Last Updated May 11, 2020 at 9:08 pm PST

Some people have raised concerns about crowds amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This photo was taken at Coquitlam River.(Submitted photo)

There is no provincial order requiring physical distancing meaning Vancouver can't fine those who fail to do so

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says if a minority of people push boundaries, tighter restrictions could come

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Even if those pushing the boundaries of physical distancing are the minority, B.C.’s public safety minister says tighter restrictions could come if everyone doesn’t begin to comply.

There is no provincial order requiring physical distancing, so crowding Vancouver’s beaches and parks won’t result in a fine.

“They are the responsibility of the local government, the local jurisdiction. So, the local government has the ability, for example, to shut down a park. If they shut down a park and close it then they have every ability to enforce that through bylaw and police,” Mike Farnworth explains.

“If however, they keep a park open or a beach open then social distancing guidelines do apply. But because they are a recommendation from the provincial health officer –as opposed to a direct order–they are not enforceable at the local level.”

RELATED: Parking lots at Vancouver beaches, parks to stay closed due to lack of physical distancing

Farnworth says declining numbers of new cases and hospitalizations how that following the province’s guidance by staying close to home and avoiding crowds is working.

“People need to understand this needs to continue and everybody needs to be a part of it,” he says.

“Most people get that but unfortunately there are some that don’t. The reality is this: if people don’t abide, restrictions won’t be loosened, and you’ll see parks such as Kits Beach get closed, for example.”

Over the Mother’s Day weekend, bylaw officers handed out nearly 2,000 warnings throughout Vancouver.

Farnworth says while those number sare revealing of some ignoring the direction of public health officials, it also shows cities are paying attention.

“People are out doing their job, they are out warning people. What’s critical is that people obey, and respect, and listen to those warnings and maintain proper social distance. That’s what’s got to happen. Otherwise, you will see parks get closed or restrictions tighten,” he says.

“If people keep pushing boundaries, then what that does is–it impacts everybody.”

With files from Tarnjit Parmar