Education, not enforcement, focus of Kelowna’s new COVID-19 patrols | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Education, not enforcement, focus of Kelowna’s new COVID-19 patrols

Image Credit: INSTAGRAM / Downtown Kelowna Association
July 23, 2020 - 3:00 PM

Next week, the City of Kelowna will start sending teams out to parks, boat launches, beaches, recreation facilities and other gathering places to educate people the importance of safe distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The role of the folks that will be doing this work is to monitor to see what is going on in those high traffic areas of the city,” City manager Doug Gilchrist said during a news conference today, July 23. “It is to educate on what’s important and to report, if necessary, if the behaviour is repetitive.”

The City does not have the power to enforce rules on the size of gatherings or social distancing but can report to Interior Health, which can levy fines for some offences.

In addition to the educational patrols, the City’s bylaws department will work with WorkSafeBC, Interior Health and liquor inspectors to “inspect, educate and enforce” provincial rules at businesses.

This all comes as a surge in COVID-19 cases in B.C. is largely concentrated on Kelowna after a number of parties and other gatherings over the past few weeks. Those triggered at least 78 cases of COVID-19 in the province and more that 1,000 people are self-isolating, largely because of the Kelowna events.

READ MORE: Dr. Bonnie Henry rules out Kelowna-specific restrictions but new orders coming

While the patrols are focused on education, Mayor Colin Basran thinks they will be effective.

“It’s just one more thing we can do to remind people and hope that it can help to limit the spread,” he said. “Most people are doing what they can, but are there still gatherings of people who are not adhering to the orders and recommendations? Of course there are. Are we going to be able to have people everywhere to break groups up or convince people to do otherwise? No, we’re not. But do we think this is going to help? Absolutely it is.

“But is it going to be the sole reason why we are able to flatten the curve? No, it’s not. We’re going to require everybody to do their part and so this is just the city doing its part.”

Basran, in answer to questions from the media, said he is following the recommendations of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, so he will not take unilateral action in Kelowna by imposing things like mandatory mask wearing or temperature taking.

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