More than $12,000 in COVID-19 fines have been issued to a select few British Columbians in the span of a week, according to the B.C. government.
Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety, announced on Aug. 21 that police and other provincial enforcement officers would be given the ability to issue $2,000 violation tickets for owners or organizers contravening the provincial health officer’s order on gatherings and events.
Along with the fines for hosts, individuals who opt to disregard protocols could be fined a $200 violation ticket.
The decision to exercise extraordinary powers under the current provincial state of emergency was made as British Columbia experiences an uptick in daily COVID-19 cases.
In a written statement issued on Tuesday, Premier John Horgan said he is encouraged “to see the vast majority of British Columbians following public health rules to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep each other safe.”
The premier added, however, that “there remains a small group of people ignoring Dr. Henry’s orders and threatening our hard work over the past several months to flatten the curve.”
According to the Province, in the first week of enforcing the new measures – between August 21 and 28 – ten violation tickets were issued.
Six of those tickets were issued to gatherings and events, resulting in more than $12,000 in fines.
Another four $200 violation tickets were handed out to individuals.
“Since we announced the new enforcement measures, we’ve seen several examples of violation tickets being issued to people breaking the law,” said Farnworth.
“It’s disappointing to see behaviour that shows a blatant disregard for the safety of citizens. It’s time to stop breaking the rules. It’s time to do better. It’s my hope that these enforcement measures will result in a change in behaviour and fewer violation tickets will be needed in the future.”
The first ticket handed out by authorities went to a Victoria party host the same day that the BC Government announced the new violations. Victoria Police estimate that over 40 party-goers were packed into a one-bedroom apartment located on Fort Street. Police ended up back at the same host’s apartment the next night, again issuing fines.
Other fines have been linked throughout Surrey and Richmond over on the mainland.
Along with revealing the volume of issued COVID-19 fines, the province announced an extension of the current state of emergency until Sept. 15, 2020.