Complaints about violations of COVID-19 rules? Call bylaw, not police - InfoNews

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Complaints about violations of COVID-19 rules? Call bylaw, not police

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March 30, 2020 - 11:00 AM

If you have complaints about others who are not practicing social distancing, providing unsafe working conditions or businesses staying open after being ordered closed because of COVID-19, the provincial government says local bylaw officers will handle it — not police.

While the B.C. Ministry of Health urged everyone to physically distance themselves, they've been entirely unclear in explaining how such violations could be reported. In an email last week, the ministry confirmed people should not call police.

“This should be done through contacting municipal by-law enforcement channels,” the email said.

And that’s where, at least in Kelowna, the RCMP is directing such complaints.

The province announced March 26, that it may also use bylaw officers to enforce orders issued by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“Municipal bylaw officers are enabled to be re-deployed to support enforcement of the provincial health officer's orders and directives carrying fines of over $25,000 or jail, to be determined by the courts under the authority of the Public Health Act,” that directive said.

City of Kelowna’s Risk Manager, Lance Kayfish, said bylaw officers have already dealt with a number of complaints for things like small groups gathering or people playing basketball in City Park before that was closed.

For the most part, bylaw officers have simply warned people that they need to follow the rules and the vast majority are doing that, Kayfish said.

If any businesses that have been ordered closed are still open, those can also be reported to Interior Health’s Environment Enforcement Officers here.

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