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B.C. enforcement officers continue COVID-19 crackdown

Last Updated Sep 4, 2020 at 7:27 pm PST

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Stronger fines and stepped up enforcement for violations of public health orders were introduced Aug. 21

One man who is organizing a rave says the prospect of a $2000 dollar fine isn't enough to deter him from going ahead

Dr. Bonnie Henry says she has no plans to lift, change the 50-person cap on gatherings

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Violating COVID-19 health and safety orders by organizing a large gathering will earn you a visit from police, bylaw officers and maybe WorkSafeBC inspectors and could result in a fine of up to $2,300.

But the organizer of an upcoming rave in the Lower Mainland says he’s willing to take the risk.

“If they fine me, they fine me. If they throw me in jail, they throw me in jail. People need to have fun. People need to dance and need to party. People need to love each other.”

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported this week that young adults in groups greater than 50 are largely to blame for B.C.’s COVID-19 curve bending the wrong way.

“Even though people have the best of intentions, when you get large groups together — inevitably — people are going to be mixing. During this time, we all have to take these measures.”

Stronger fines and stepped up enforcement efforts were introduced Aug. 21.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says at least 10 fines were issued during the first week and he has this message for all British Columbians heading into the last long weekend of summer.

“Don’t mess it up by gathering in large groups, not social distancing, wear a mask when you’re not able to social distance because all of us will pay a price if we don’t do that and the person you may hurt may well be a parent, a grandparent or a loved one.”

RELATED: Stiffer penalties for rule breakers part of B.C.’s new COVID-19 approach

As for the organizer of the upcoming rave, Farnworth says people like him clearly don’t understand what’s at stake.

“It’s extremely frustrating. It makes you angry that people could be so willfully, deliberately irresponsible because they have this selfish idea their desire to have a rave in some building or out in a bush is more important than people’s health.”

On Thursday, Henry explained why she is not lifting B.C.’s 50-person limit on gatherings.

“These are the measures that we feel best protect our community on an ongoing basis and we need to be fair with everybody on how we’re implementing them.”

In Vancouver, special enforcement officers are working with police to track events that violate health orders — and if necessary — shut them down.

RELATED: B.C. issues 10 COVID-19 fines in first week of enforcement

Chief Licence Inspector Kathryn Holm also confirms no permits have been approved for the rave being planned by the man NEWS 1130 has chosen not to identify.

“When we are aware of planned, unsanctioned events where the Provincial Health Order may be violated, City enforcement officers will attend to observe, educate attendees and escalate to VPD when needed,” she says in an emailed statement.

“With the cases of COVID-19 increasing, we encourage everyone to adhere to the Provincial Health order and follow the guidance of Dr. Bonnie Henry to keep social circles small and help control the spread of COVID-19. City enforcement staff and park rangers are actively providing education about compliance with provincial health orders at the City’s beaches, parks and businesses. These staff are now involving the VPD when dealing with people or businesses who are persistent offenders.”

Meanwhile, Farnworth says at least one family of five from the United States has been forced to go home after being caught vacationing in Vancouver when they claimed they were headed straight to Alaska.

“They were escorted to the border by the RCMP and they would have also been fined, as well. I think that sends a strong message. When they’re back in the States, they’ll be telling their friends and neighbours, ‘They’re serious in Canada. You are going to get nailed.'”