With strict COVID-19 travel, gathering and event restrictions in place at least until Jan. 8, Premier John Horgan has called on workplace inspectors, community bylaw staff and conservation officers to help police enforce public behaviour through the holiday season.
Horgan appealed directly to enforcement officials Tuesday to help “redouble our efforts” to hold B.C.’s coronavirus infection rate down as vaccine distribution starts.
“Anywhere you have authority over citizens, we’re going to be asking you to work with law enforcement to ensure that our public health orders are in place and being acted upon,” Horgan told reporters Dec. 15. “That means holding rule-breakers accountable. That means ensuring that the fines we levy are collected. Certainly everyone has a right to appeal, everyone has a right to due process, but once that due process has been finalized, if you do not pay the fines, we will send collections after you.”
Fines of up to $2,300 have been assessed to people hosting house parties in defiance of public health orders, and people have rallied against the requirement for masks in indoor public areas and businesses.
Horgan said a disturbing increase in COVID-related deaths, with 49 over the past weekend, even as infections have levelled off at 600 to 700 a day, demands more action. He stressed that the vast majority of people are complying with public health restrictions, but the holiday season ahead is crucial.
“This is serious, this is not a lark, this is not something we do lightly,” Horgan said. “Those of us who do not want to obey the rules that the rest of us are following will have to pay the consequences.
“Keep your bubbles very, very tight over the holiday season. Do not interact with people you don’t normally interact with, and of course if you’re in a public place, wear a mask.”