Province updates measures to enforce COVID-19 public safety
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth is aligning the Province’s ticketing measures with the provincial health officer’s (PHO) updated orders on Food and Liquor Serving Premises and Gatherings and Events, giving police and other provincial enforcement officers the ability to issue violation tickets for contraventions.
All ticketing measures previously announced on Aug. 21, 2020, to enforce COVID-19 public safety at gatherings and events will remain in effect and will be expanded. Effective immediately, the measures are enacted under the provincial state of emergency, using the extraordinary powers of the Emergency Program Act (EPA) in ongoing support of B.C.’s COVID-19 response and economic recovery plan.
“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 previously announced ticketing measures on gatherings and events, the measures announced today include the following provisions, which are also subject to ticketing and enforcement:
- 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. If a full meal service is provided, premises may stay open, but liquor must not be served until 11 a.m. the following day.
- 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.
The enforcement focus will continue to be on $2,000 fines to owners, operators and organizers for contraventions of the PHO’s orders. Individual patrons may be levied with $200 fines.
In addition to enabling action from police, the Province is enlisting compliance and enforcement staff from provincial ministries to support enforcement and help issue tickets. This includes liquor, cannabis and gaming inspectors, community safety unit inspectors, and conservation officers.
Violation tickets expand the Province’s compliance and enforcement toolkit to support the COVID-19 response. 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.
Working in partnership with local governments and other agencies, a comprehensive and integrated compliance and enforcement regime has been built. These violation tickets build on existing tools, such as the ability to suspend or revoke the business or liquor licenses of problematic operators.
- The specifics around orders of the PHO, including the numbers allowable at gatherings and events, will continue to be set at the direction of the PHO.
- To report concerns around order violations from event organizers, venues or individuals, contact your local government’s bylaw office. Local bylaw officers can help follow-up on concerns, and engage the Unified Command Centre, police departments, health officers and WorkSafe-BC as necessary. If unable to reach a local bylaw office, contact your local police department’s non-emergency line.
The Aug. 21, 2020 news release on ticketing measures for gatherings and events is available here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020PSSG0046-001568
PHO orders are available here: www.gov.bc.ca/phoguidance
For recommendations on protecting yourself and your community, including for employers, businesses, schools and those planning events for fewer than 50 people, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)
For a list of provincial health officer’s orders, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/current-health-topics/covid-19-novel-coronavirus
For more information on non-medical issues like travel recommendations and how to manage social isolation, visit www.gov.bc.ca/COVID-19
Learn more about B.C.’s economic recovery planning: http://gov.bc.ca/recoveryideas
For information on BC’s Restart Plan, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/RestartBC
Learn more about industry-specific guidance and resources: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates/covid-19-returning-safe-operation
For information on federal and provincial government supports available to individuals, families, businesses and organizations, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/covidgovernmentbenefits
For more information and latest medical updates on COVID-19, follow the BC Centre for Disease Control on Twitter @CDCofBC or visit its website: http://www.bccdc.ca
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