B.C. is not messing around. On Friday, August 21, public safety minister Mike Farnworth said in a B.C. COVID-19 announcement that law enforcement will start handing out massive fines to those involved in large gatherings. The organizers will receive $2,000 fines, whereas attendees will get tickets worth $200. "Belligerent" COVID-19 rulebreakers in restaurants will also get fines.
"We will be targeting venues, promoters, and as necessary, we will be taking action against problematic attendees and individuals," he said in a press conference.
"To this end, police and other enforcement officers will be able to issue $200 violation tickets for anyone actively encouraging large gatherings or events, or refusing to leave or disperse when directed to do so," said the minister.
On top of the attendee fine, Farnworth also said that $200 violation fines will be given to people who refuse to follow "safe operating plans" issued by businesses.
This includes people who engage in "bullying or abusive behaviour" towards employees of businesses.
The minister even highlighted an example. "Don't yell at the waiter who asks you not to push the tables together at a restaurant. Don't be belligerent towards the hardworking people who are trying to keep us all safe."
Farnworth reminded the public that gatherings in excess of 50 people are not allowed. But it's not just about the max limit.
"If you have 38 people crammed into a kitchen and you know there's no social distancing, then clearly, that's in violation of the order, and the owner would be subjected to a $2,000 ticket."
He also mentioned that B.C.'s spike in recent COVID-19 cases is coming from "private house parties."
But he acknowledged that it's a "small minority" of people who are breaking the rules. Those people will be targeted by enforcement efforts.
In terms of how officers are going to be able to keep track of parties, the minister said, "It'll be a complaint-driven process."
Police are already notified about unruly parties on a regular basis; COVID-19 is just going to be an "additional layer" on top of their routine operations, he said.
Police will use their discretion on who they're going to ticket.
"The message is: if you're outside and you're not following the proper orders, there is a penalty," he said.