B.C. cracking down on violators of COVID-19 food and liquor serving orders - InfoNews

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B.C. cracking down on violators of COVID-19 food and liquor serving orders

B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
September 20, 2020 - 8:52 PM

B.C. is going to crack down on people who violate the provincial health officer's orders on Food and Liquor Serving Premises and Gatherings and Events.

In a press release sent out Sept. 20,  Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced ticketing measures to enforce COVID-19 public safety at gatherings and events announced Aug. 21 will be expanded.

Effective immediately, the measures are enacted under the provincial state of emergency, using the Emergency Program Act 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 in a press release.

"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 new measures 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 said it 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," the press release reads.

"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."

If violation tickets aren't 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.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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