In the first week of new COVID-19 violation tickets being approved by B.C.'s public safety minister and solicitor general, 10 fines were handed out in the province.
Late last month, police and other enforcement officers were given the ability to hand out $2,000 violation tickets for business owners or event organizers breaking provincial health orders on gatherings. Those orders include keeping gatherings smaller than 50 people and collecting contact information in case of exposure.
The updated rules also allowed officers to issue $200 violation tickets to individuals not following direction of police or staff at events.
In the first week those rules were in place – from Aug. 21 to 28 – 10 violation tickets were handed out, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said in a news release Tuesday. Six of those were $2,000 tickets, while four were $200 ones.
"Since we announced the new enforcement measures, we've seen several examples of violation tickets being issued to people breaking the law," Farnworth said.
"It's disappointing to see behaviour that shows a blatant disregard for the safety of citizens. It's time to stop breaking the rules."
Some of those first fines were handed out to businesses in Surrey, including an after-hours club, two event spaces and a restaurant. In those cases, each location had been subject to previous warnings from Surrey's compliance and enforcement team.
Another fine was given to a sports centre in Richmond, where Mounties said the business "was doing little to encourage social distancing, proper sanitization or contact tracing."
In Victoria, a fine was handed out to a party host the night the new rules were introduced. That host held a gathering the very next day, where one person was ticketed for violating COVID-19 rules.
"It's time to do better," Farnworth said. "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."
In Tuesday's news release, Farnworth also announced the province was extending its record-breaking state of emergency for the 13th time.