RCMP in Surrey say officers issued four violation tickets to businesses and event organizers over the weekend, following “repeated contraventions” of the provincial health officer’s COVID-19 orders.
On Aug. 21, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General announced new fines for non-compliance of provincial COVID-19 health orders.
The Surrey COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team (CCET) issued $2,300 fines to one restaurant, two event/banquet spaces, and one after-hours club on Aug 23. Each of these places had been subject to previous warnings by CCET, police said.
Police said two days prior, on Aug. 21, a number of Canuck fans celebrating the team’s win also chose to ignore physical distancing requirements when upwards of 1,000 people gathered at the corner of Scott Road and 72nd Avenue.
Surrey RCMP and Delta Police Department were in attendance. But police said due to the size of the crowd, their focus had to remain on pedestrian and traffic safety.
A total of seven violation tickets were issued for seat belt violations as a result of occupants hanging out of windows or sunroofs.
“Canuck fans who gathered in large groups without masks on Friday night should consider this to be their warning,” Sgt. Roger Green of the Surrey COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team said in a statement.
“The public and the police are not happy with the disregard for physical distancing and expect you do to better for the sake of your families, yourselves, and your fellow residents.”
CCET conducted a total of 429 checks on Saturday and Sunday at various businesses, event spaces, and faith-based institutions, with 425 of those in compliance with provincial health orders.
CCET, which is made up of Surrey RCMP officers and City of Surrey bylaw officers, conducts approximately 60 proactive compliance checks each day, as well as responding to calls for service, police said.
The Surrey RCMP and Delta Police said they will be present at 72nd Avenue and Scott Road following each Canucks playoff game to ensure the safety of celebrants, drivers and pedestrians in the area.
“We are asking everyone to ensure that they are complying with COVID-19 public health orders while celebrating – this including no congregations of more than 50 people in one area, and maintaining physical distancing,” police said.
Residents of Surrey wishing to report a violation of a COVID-19 public health order can contact the City of Surrey Bylaw call centre at 604-591-4370 or the Surrey RCMP non-emergency line at 604-599-0502.
READ MORE: B.C. reports 269 cases of COVID-19 since Friday, 6 new cases in Island Health
Richmond Business Fined
On Aug, 22 at around 9:30 p.m., Richmond RCMP attended a private sports centre in the 2300-block of No 6 Road, after receiving a complaint that management there was not complying with social distancing rules and regulations.
Police said officers found a “significant amount of people” past the 50-person limit, as set out in requirements of the Provincial Health Officer guidelines. Police said they also learned that the location was doing little to encourage social distancing, proper sanitization or contact tracing.
“Initially, investigators took an educational approach when dealing with the participants and spectators at the facility, but it was quite clear that the business needed further incentive to comply with the PHO’s guidelines,” Cpl Ian Henderson of the Richmond RCMP said in a statement.
The operator of the facility was issued a $2300 Violation Ticket, under section 23.3(2) of the new COVID-19 Related Measures Act (CMRA), for a contravention of the Provincial Health Officer Gatherings and Events Order.
Richmond RCMP also attended a number of private gatherings over the weekend. Police said they opted to educate people rather than issue violation tickets, but noted that individuals are also subject to a $230 fine if they fail to follow the request of a business owner or event organizer to comply with the terms of the PHO Order on Gatherings and Events.
“It is disappointing that people still aren’t getting the message. Whenever possible, we will take an educational approach to the Public Health Officer’s orders, but for those businesses operating in blatant disregard for the PHO’s orders, the RCMP will be considering violation tickets under the new CMRA,” Henderson said.
Members of the public in Richmond are asked to report possible violations under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act to Richmond Bylaws between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. by email at bylawrequest [at] richmond.ca, the Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212, or through the RCMP online reporting system at https://ocre-sielc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/richmond.
Both the Surrey and Richmond fines come the same weekend a party host in Victoria was fined $2,300. Police said they believe as many as 60 people attended the party.