VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Fulfilling its promise, the province is cracking down on gatherings that violate public health safety orders, in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
On Friday, Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth announced fines of $2,000 for hosts and organizers of events that break public safety orders, effective immediately.
“Enough is Enough,” he said.
“There is no excuse to disregard the responsibility we share to keep each other safe in this pandemic.”
#BREAKING B.C. giving law enforcement power to issue $2,000 violation tickets to business owners or event organizers who:
– host/organize gatherings in excess of 50 people
– not keeping a list/contact info of attendees
– hosting more than five people in vacation rentals
— Lasia Kretzel (@lkretzel1130) August 21, 2020
Those who host or organize an event of more than 50 people, those who don’t have a contact tracking list, and anyone who hosts more than five guests in vacation accommodations, like an Airbnb, can all be fined $2,000.
“To be clear, just because your party has less than 50 people, does not make it legal. You must follow all guidelines. So, if you’re hosting a large penthouse party, organizing a street gathering or drum circle on the beach, we will be watching,” Farnworth said.
“These irresponsible actions are putting our most vulnerable at risk. These actions could cost people their lives, that’s why stricter enforcement is necessary.”
Individuals can also be fined $200 for violating health orders.
This includes anyone actively encouraging these events or refusing to leave or disperse when asked to. People can also be fined for refusing to abide by business safety plans and those who engage in bullying or abusive behaviours towards employees.
“Don’t yell at the waiter who asks you not to push your tables together at the restaurants. Don’t be belligerent towards the hardworking people who are trying to keep us safe,” he said.
Several government agencies to enforce rules
Farnworth explained it won’t only be police enforcing the new orders, but provincial staff from several ministries will help issue tickets for the duration of the pandemic.
“This includes liquor, cannabis, and gaming inspectors, community safety unit inspectors, and conservation officers,” he added.
WorkSafeBC investigators will also be enforcing regulations.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck approach,” Farnworth said. “It’s time to take a tougher stance.”
But the minister said he is disappointed it has come to stricter rules. Farnworth said the new measures are based on a small minority of people, if this doesn’t work, additional measures could be taken.
Though he admits the enforcement will be primarily complaint-driven.
The Vancouver Police Department said it will start working with the city’s staff enforcement team to help enforce the new regulations.
“The legislation permitting police enforcement is new and we’re working to ensure all police officers are trained in their new legal authorities,” says Const. Tania Visintin. “We’re asking the public for their patience and for people to voluntarily adhere to the new orders.”
To report concerns of people breaking the COVID-19 rules, British Columbians can contact local bylaw officers. If they can’t reach them, call the non-emergency number local police departments.
That didn’t take long.
.@VancouverPD confirm #COVID19 orders to be enforced with support from special constables across the #LowerMainland.
.@CityofVancouver has team patrolling private property, businesses, parks and beaches for “persistent offenders” to be fined. @NEWS1130
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) August 21, 2020
For Vancouver, Visintin urged people to call 311 to report, and noted a surge in complaints is expected.
Dozens of new cases of the virus have been reported daily in B.C., which have mostly been made up of younger generations. On Thursday, however, Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Réka Gustafson noted a slight increase in infections for people ages 40-60.
As of Thursday’s provincial COVID-19 update, 4,825 cases have been confirmed and 200 people have died from the virus. Currently, 2,574 people are in isolation after coming into contact with someone with COVID-19.
At the beginning of the week, B.C.’s highest daily-case count was recorded.