Due to the current pandemic, health officials and governments have had to put in place a number of COVID-19 rules. While, for the most part, people have been doing what they're told, there are still some who aren't following protocol. Because of this, bylaw officers are going to start dishing out $1,200 COVID-19 fines in Calgary to anyone who isn’t social distancing. As of Wednesday, April 22, the city will now be encouraging bylaw officers to give out fines to anyone refusing to social distance.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi addressed the public in a COVID-19 update alongside Chief of Calgary Emergency Management Agency Tom Sampson.
During the speech, Sampson acknowledged that he understands the necessary lifestyle changes have been difficult and people have been making efforts to support everyone's health and safety.
While some people have been doing their part to ensure rules are followed, Sampson noted that police will be working in conjunction with bylaw enforcement officers to further ensure rules are being followed.
These officers will now have the power to issue tickets to rule breakers.
He did note that these citations will be used as a last resort and are being put in place to protect the public. In addition, he explained that it'll be up to the officer's judgment to decide who will get a fine.
The health and safety official called the tickets a "serious piece of impact" because of how expensive they are.
He noted that he's been sent on calls recently that have demonstrated inappropriate behaviour.
Since Friday, April 17, officers in Calgary have conducted over 200 patrols and provided over 1,800 citizens education on COVID-19 rules.
At the same time, 811 has received 152 service requests about physical distancing concerns.
Sampson stated that “69 of those calls were about social distancing, 36 about social distancing on private property, and 21 concerns about playground use, 26 concerns related to public gatherings.”
Over the same time period, there were 182 general inquiries to 811. These calls mostly had to do with people asking what they could and could not do under the current health orders.
In addition to the bylaw calls, Alberta Health Services has had over 4,000 residents call and complain about others not following the rules.
So far, Sampson said that he believes seven tickets have been given by Calgary Police in relation to physical distancing.
These rules are the new normal in Alberta and will remain so for quite some time. Dr. Deena Hinshaw said earlier this week that, although the province's efforts to flatten the curve seem to be working, we can't ease up any time soon.
"I'm hearing a lot of discussion about wanting to start opening up and getting back to more of a normal routine," she said.
"The temptation we need to resist is to think because we haven't yet seen the spread our model predicted, that means the problem has gone away," she said.
"That is not true," she continued. "The virus is still with us."
Dr. Hinshaw stresses that Albertans must stay vigilant and keep that barrier strong. So that we can build on the success that we've seen so far.