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New COVID-19 enforcement in B.C. allows up to $2,000 fines

Stricter enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions is in effect, as police and other law enforcement agencies may issue fines for organizers of large events and smaller fines for “problematic” individuals.

“From this point forward, We’re going to make sure those making selfish decisions are risking more than their reputations,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “I am disappointed that stricter enforcement has become necessary.”

The action comes after a surge in new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, which has been blamed on young people partying and gathering in large groups.

“There is a small minority of selfish individuals across the province who are disregarding the public health measures in place,” said Farnworth. “There is no excuse to disregard the responsibility we share to keep each other safe in this pandemic.”

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Fines will range in price, depending on the violation:

  • $2,000 for hosting a private party or public event with 50+ people.
  • $2,000 for hosting a gathering without hand sanitation, enough space for physical distancing or washroom facilities.
  • $2,000 for having more than five guests attend an event at a vacation rental.
  • $200 for anyone who refuses to leave a gathering or event when directed to do so.
  • $200 for anyone who refuses to follow COVID-19 safety rules at a restaurant, gathering or event and becomes abusive or belligerent towards employees.

“If you’re asked to leave a gathering, leave. Don’t yell at the waiter who asks you not to push your tables together at a restaurant. Don’t be belligerent to hard-working people who are trying to keep us all safe,” said Farnworth.

Vacation rentals include hotel rooms, Air B&B locations, and houseboats.

According to Farnworth, even a gathering under 50 people can still receive a violation ticket, as all public health measures must still be adhered to.

Farnworth said residents can report potential violations to their local bylaw office.

“Bylaw officers can help follow up on concerns and engage police officers, health officers and WorkSafe BC as necessary. If you’re unable to reach a local bylaw office, contact your local police department’s non-emergency line,” said Farnworth.

As of Thursday, COVID-19 has killed 200 British Columbians and infected a total of  4,825 people.

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