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Province expands ticketing for COVID-19 violations

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Sep 20, 2020 at 9:23 pm PDT

FILE - Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth introuced the COVID-19 Related Measures Act in August 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ben Nelms)
Summary

The provincial government has expanded who can be fined for violating COVID-19 health and safety orders

Liquor, cannabis and gaming inspectors, along with conservation officers and others will be able to issue tickets

Liquor must not be consumed on premises by owners, operators or staff after 11 p.m.

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The provincial government has expanded who can be fined for violating COVID-19 health and safety orders, along with who can issue those tickets.

Liquor, cannabis, and gaming inspectors, along with conservation officers and others will be able to issue tickets along with police and bylaws officers to those found violating COVID-19 health and safety orders for serving food and alcohol, the province announced late Sunday.

Compliance and enforcement staff from provincial ministries, and community safety unit inspectors will also be able to issue tickets with fines up to $2,000 for contraventions of orders regulating food and liquor serving premises, gatherings, and events.

All ticketing measures previously announced on Aug. 21 to enforce COVID-19 public safety at gatherings and events will remain in effect and expanded.

“Now, more than ever, we all need to follow the guidelines of the provincial health officer,” Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says in a release.

“These updated measures ensure police have the tools necessary to continue enforcing the Provincial Health Officer’s orders on unsafe gatherings.”

Earlier this month, the province ordered all nightclubs and standalone banquet halls to close until further notice.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also ordered liquor sales in all bars, pubs, and restaurants to cease at 10 p.m., while those venues must close at 11 p.m. unless they are providing full meal service. Music and background sounds must not be louder than the volume of normal conversation in those venues.

The new measures fall under the provincial state of emergency and Emergency Program Act.

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In addition to previously announced ticketing measures on gatherings and events, the new ones subject to ticketing and enforcement:

  • the holding of any event in a banquet hall is prohibited;
  • nightclubs must cease operating as nightclubs;
  • background music or other background sounds, such as from televisions, must be no louder than the volume of normal conversation;.
  • liquor sales for onsite consumption must cease by 10 p.m.
  • unless a full meal service is provided, premises must close by 11 p.m. and all patrons must vacate the premises (if a full meal service is provided, premises may stay open, but liquor must not be served until 11 a.m. the following day);
  • liquor must not be consumed on premises by owners, operators, or staff after 11 p.m.;
  • liquor service at private events must cease at 10 p.m.;
  • if food or liquor serving premises hold private events, like wedding receptions, the same rules that hotels and other venues must follow apply to these premises.

The enforcement focus will continue to be on $2,000 fines to owners, operators and organizers for contraventions of the orders, according to the province, while individuals may be levied with $200 fines. If violation tickets do not act as a deterrent, or in cases of particularly egregious contraventions or for repeat offenders, police can recommend charges in relation to the offence.

On Thursday, B.C. set a single-day record with 165 new cases of COVID-19. Cases counts have exceeded 100 so far 13 times this month.