Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth has announced a series of new fines for COVID-19 regulations, while expanding the list of authorities who can issue those tickets.
The fines centre around recent changes applied to restaurants and bars earlier this month, when B.C. ordered the closure of banquet halls and nightclubs and restricted the sale of liquor past 10 p.m.
In addition to all previously announced ticketing measures, businesses can now be fined for failing to adhere to the following:
- The holding of any event in a banquet hall is prohibited.
- Nightclubs must cease operating as nightclubs.
- Background music or other background sounds, such as from televisions, must be no louder than the volume of normal conversation.
- Liquor sales for onsite consumption must cease by 10 p.m.
- Unless a full meal service is provided, premises must close by 11 p.m. and all patrons must vacate the premises.
- Liquor must not be consumed on premises by owners, operators or staff after 11 p.m.
- Liquor service at private events must cease at 10 p.m.
- If food or liquor serving premises hold private events, like wedding receptions, the same rules that hotels and other venues must follow apply to these premises.
These measures, which are effective immediately, could lead to $2,000 fines if they are not followed by operators and organizers, while patrons may be levied with $200 fines, the government says.
“We released our economic recovery plan last week, and we have an opportunity to lead the country as we support a strong recovery. Now, more than ever, we all need to follow the guidelines of the provincial health officer,” Farnworth said.” These updated measures ensure police have the tools necessary to continue enforcing the PHO’s orders on unsafe gatherings.”
In addition to the police and bylaw officers, the Province is enlisting compliance and enforcement staff from provincial ministries to help issue tickets.
This includes liquor, cannabis and gaming inspectors, community safety unit inspectors, and conservation officers.
Police and other provincial compliance and enforcement officers will independently exercise discretion to issue tickets for EPA order violations under the Offence Act’s Violation Ticket Administration and Fines Regulation (VTAFR).
If violation tickets do not act as a deterrent, or in cases of particularly egregious contraventions or for repeat offenders, police can recommend charges in relation to the offence.
The new measures fall under the provincial state of emergency and Emergency Program Act.
Farnworth’s announcement comes on the heels of B.C. setting a new single-day record for COVID-19 cases back on Thursday with 165.