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Increasing COVID-19 fines for repeat offenders possible, suggests B.C. minister

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

B.C.'s public safety minister said the ministry is looking at bumping up fines for repeat COVID-19 rulebreakers

Mike Farnworth noted some people assert their rights, but stressed everyone has a responsibility

Provincial health orders were extended until Jan. 8

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — British Columbians who repeatedly violate COVID-19 restrictions could be facing higher fines, the public safety minister said Tuesday.

Under the existing legislation, there are limits to what Mike Farnworth can do, but harsher penalties could be coming for those who continually choose against following health orders.

“I can tell you that we are looking,” Farnworth said. “I’ve asked my ministry to look at how we may look at increasing fines for repeat offenders,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate that we do have a small minority of people who, to put it bluntly, are ignorant when it comes to following these orders. They like to say they have rights.”

Farnworth acknowledges everyone has rights, but also responsibilities.

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“Abide by these rules that have been put out by the provincial health officer,” Mike Farnworth said. “The sooner we bend the curve, the sooner we defeat this virus, the sooner life will be able to get back to normal, which is what we all want.”

Fines range for violating COVID-19 restrictions. For example, refusing to follow the mandatory mask rule in most indoor public spaces could end with a person paying $230. Organizing a party or an event in violation of health orders could lead to a $2,000 fine for the host.

As for holding gatherings during the holidays — which is banned under public health orders — Farnworth says just because it’s Christmas, doesn’t mean that will save anyone from getting a ticket.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry extended the public health order Monday until Jan. 8, noting high transmission and community spread it still happening while cases have started to level off.