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Surrey RCMP can't enforce appeal to avoid home gatherings without official order

Last Updated Nov 3, 2020 at 6:13 pm PST

(Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Appeal from province for people to avoid home gatherings in Fraser Health is good advice, but not enforceable: RCMP

Cpl. Joanie Sidhu says people should be following the advice but the lack of an official order leaves their hands tied

Fraser Health region has the highest case counts in B.C., with nearly double the cases compared to Vancouver Coastal

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — In appealing to people living in the Fraser Health region to avoid all social gatherings in their homes, the province is offering good advice, according to the Surrey RCMP, but it isn’t something officers can enforce.

Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Réka Gustafson said Tuesday public health teams are asking people in the region with the highest number of  COVID-19 cases not to have gatherings or parties at their homes at all, as B.C. reported 299 new infections.

Fraser Health — with Surrey as its largest municipality — has the most coronavirus cases in the province, with nearly double the number of infections compared to the most populous region, Vancouver-Coastal Health.

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Cpl. Joanie Sidhu, with the Surrey RCMP, says officers aren’t able to enforce the new recommendation because they can only crackdown through orders.

“Our officers, including our COVID-19 compliance and enforcement teams, we’re enforcing the orders right now.”

The province has issued an order limiting the number of people allowed to gather in private homes, which is the immediate household plus a group of “safe six” guests.

Sidhu says the changing dynamics of the pandemic over the past few months have also created challenges for officers trying to enforce the COVID-19 protocols.

“With businesses that were the main target and event spaces, that was easy for us to enforce because we have partnerships with these locations, and we know exactly where to go to do our checks. But with the residences, it becomes a bit more difficult because we can’t be everywhere at all times.”

But she says people can help be the eyes and ears for Mounties.

“We welcome calls from the public. If you see your neighbours having large gatherings or having more people at their home than they should be, that certainly helps give us a starting point and where to go to check and make sure people that are complying,” she says.

Earlier this week, B.C. reported its highest three-day case total as infections continue to surpass 200 a day.