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City of Vancouver outlines plan for penalizing COVID rule violators under new enforcement measures

Who will be enforcing the rules, and what rules are and are not enforceable
third-beach-drum
This summer, gatherings like a popular 'drum circle' event at a Vancouver beach prompted public outcry as attendees were violating public health orders , seemingly with impunity. Photo: @schaaptop / Twitter

In response to the provincial government's announcement Friday of enhanced measures put in place across B.C. to monitor and enforce breaking COVID-19 public health orders, the City of Vancouver has outlined how they will be asserting their authority.

Penalties, as set by the province, are $2,000 violation tickets for owners or organizers contravening the provincial health officer’s order on gatherings and events, and $200 violation tickets to individuals not following the direction of police or enforcement staff at events, or who refuse to comply with requests to follow health orders or safe operating procedures, or who respond with abusive behaviour.

If enforcement is escalated, the $2,000 fines set by the Province to owners, operators and organizers contravening provincial health orders will include:

  • hosting a private party or public event in excess of 50 people;
  • failing to provide appropriate hand sanitation and washroom facilities;
  •  failing to provide sufficient space in the venue for physical distancing;
  • failing to obtain a list of names and contacts at large event;  or
  •  having more than five guests gathered in a vacation accommodation.

$200 violation tickets for individuals will be for those who:

  • actively encourage others to attend gatherings or events that do not comply with health orders;
  • refuse to leave or disperse when directed to do so by enforcement officers;
  • refuse to comply with requirements for a restaurant, bar or other licensed establishment; or
  • respond with abusive behaviour towards employees.

B.C.'s Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth made the announcement Friday, noting that the increased enforcement comes as a reaction to the number of COVID-19 cases in B.C. have been linked to private indoor house parties. 

“There is a small minority of selfish individuals across the province who are disregarding the public health measures in place,” Farnworth said. 

The new provincial measures provide increased enforcement powers for police and special constables across the Lower Mainland, including within the jurisdiction of the City of Vancouver, and the Vancouver Police Department.

“Many members of the public, businesses and restaurants have been doing a great job helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep their community members safe,” said Jessie Adcock, General Manager of Development, Buildings and Licencing. “Enforcement, starting today, will be primarily focused on the much smaller group who aren’t.”

A City of Vancouver enforcement team has already been tasked with addressing violations for locations such as private property, businesses, parks, and beaches, and those staff will continue to provide education about compliance with provincial health orders.

However, their powers have been upped: Effective immediately, that enforcement team will now be involving the VPD when dealing with people or businesses who are persistent offenders. The VPD are now authorized by the Province to issue tickets and penalties.

“The legislation permitting police enforcement is new and we’re working to ensure all police officers are trained in their new legal authorities,” says Constable Tania Visintin, Media Relations Officer, VPD. “We’re asking the public for their patience and for people to voluntarily adhere to the new orders.”

Members of the public can report public health order violations in the City of Vancouver by calling 3-1-1-. Do not call 9-1-1. Visintin reminds Vancouver residents to please " leave [the 9-1-1] lines free for emergency situations.”

Other options for reporting concerns include online at vanconnect.ca, or using the City’s VanConnect mobile app, or the City of Vancouver website. Reports regarding businesses can be made by calling WorkSafeBC at 1-888-621-7233.

The City of Vancouver also broke down some FAQs regarding the new enforcement measures:

What is not enforceable?

  • Not hand washing or not wearing face coverings
  • Social gatherings complying with health orders
  • Concerns about workers or staff

What will the tickets and penalties be?

  • Penalties are determined by the Province, more information is available online HERE




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