B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth defends government actions in the legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)

B.C. more than doubles fine for breaking COVID-19 gathering orders

Penalty for attending, promoting events goes from $230 to $575

The B.C. government has more than doubled its fine for attending or promoting a gathering in violation of COVID-19 public health orders from $230 to $575, effective immediately.

The fine for hosting a party or other gathering that breaks pandemic rules remains at $2,300. The $230 fine continues to apply to other COVID-19 measures, including failing to wear a mask or failing to follow rules for patrons of businesses and other public spaces. The $230 fine also applies to those who “engage in abusive or belligerent behaviour in relation to the face coverings order,” the ministry says.

“Over the past several months, it’s become clear that for some, the risk of a $230 violation ticket isn’t enough to deter attendance at events that violate the provincial health officer order,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said March 25. “I am disappointed that a small minority of British Columbians continue to put their health and the health of others at risk by attending unsafe gatherings. This selfish behaviour needs to stop, and police and provincial enforcement authorities will be able to issue these new fines immediately.”

Farnworth said as of this week, more than 1,500 tickets have been issued in B.C. for violations of COVID-19 public health orders. He acknowledged that many have not yet been paid, partly because people have 30 days to dispute a ticket, and more measures are in the works to ensure payment.

“We do know that many people are disputing tickets, and they will have the ability to have their day in court, just as with any violation ticket that is issued,” Farnworth said. “We have also made it clear that if you do not dispute a ticket within 30 days, then that will go to a collection agency for action.”

The ministry advises people who witness potential violations of public health orders by individuals, event organizers or venues to contact their local government bylaw office or the local police non-emergency phone line.

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