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Fines for defying B.C. mask policy possible ahead of enforcement: RCMP

Last Updated Nov 20, 2020 at 4:18 pm PST

Summary

Police in B.C. don't know how they will be expected to enforce the mask policy or how much fines will be yet

Police can still issue fines if someone isn't wearing a mask and refusing to leave a business

Pandemic-related fines that have been in place since August include $200 for failing to comply with public safety orders

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — People defying orders to wear masks in most indoor spaces across B.C. could end up having to explain why to a police officer, according to the Surrey RCMP.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the order Thursday, along with other restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in B.C.’s second wave.

Police in B.C. have not been told yet how they will be expected to enforce the policy or how much fines will be, but there are still actions officers can take if someone refuses to follow the order.

RELATED: Surrey city councillor wants COVID-19 enforcement measures stepped up

Surrey RCMP Cpl. Joanie Sidhu said the goal is to educate people first, but Mounties have already been ticketing people who refuse to leave a business where masks are already mandatory.

“An individual can be issued a $200 fine and it would be $230 with the victim surcharge for being belligerent or uncooperative with the direction of any organizer/owner/operator to comply with terms of a public health order. That is a section that may apply for a fine based on what the circumstances are,” she says.

“The other option would be that they would be removed from that location.”

Surrey has its own designated COVID-19 compliance and enforcement team responsible for educating and making sure people and businesses are following health orders.

Sidhu says the vast majority of residents are complying.

“But for those that are not complying, we are going to do everything we can to continue to not only educate those people to gain their compliance but also, wherever appropriate, issue violation tickets.”

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Of the 34 people who have been issued warnings in Surrey so far this month, only seven ended up getting fined.

In the meantime, apartment renters and condo owners are also expected to cover their faces in elevators and hallways. Masks should also be worn in workplaces where physical distancing isn’t possible.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth is expected to clarify new enforcement measures early next week.