Alberta laying groundwork for enforcement during coronavirus health emergency

Click to play video: 'Alberta laying groundwork for state-of-emergency enforcement'
Alberta laying groundwork for state-of-emergency enforcement
WATCH: Many businesses and public facilities have been shuttered under the current public health emergency declared in Alberta, but not all of them are following the rules, leaving many wondering who is enforcing them. Cami Kepke has more – Mar 20, 2020

One day after Calgary Gold’s Gym locations were under fire for disobeying capacity measures put in place during the coronavirus pandemic, new signs on Friday indicated the facilities were closed until further notice.

On March 17, Premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public health emergency. Under that order, Albertans were banned from going to recreational facilities where there could be 50 people or more.

Many other businesses that don’t need to close have still shut their doors – either as a precaution or due to public shaming.

Alberta Health Services says Gold’s Gym is the only business in Calgary that has been sent a closure order as of Friday afternoon.

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On March 19, the City of Calgary extended its local state of emergency for another seven days, but some businesses breaking the rules are slipping through the cracks.

It’s left many wondering who is enforcing the new rules and what penalties people or businesses could face.

On Thursday, Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Tom Sampson said people can face fines for not following self-isolation or travel rules, and the amount would be set by the courts.

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“Discussions about this issue are happening now; no decisions have been made,” Alberta Justice spokesperson Jason van Rassel said in an email to Global News.

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“These discussions are specifically about enforcing compliance with public health orders directed at public institutions and banning public gatherings of more than 50 people.”

Click to play video: 'Hinshaw asks Albertans to remind people that ‘staying home saves lives’'
Hinshaw asks Albertans to remind people that ‘staying home saves lives’

Gatherings must not exceed 50 people, that restriction includes recreation and private entertainment facilities. If Albertans see facilities that are not following these limitations and restrictions, they are asked to notify public health inspectors at Alberta Health Services through the online complaint form.

“If you’re seeing egregious things, call 311 like you normally would with a bylaw violation and we’ll move forward,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said at city hall Thursday.

On Friday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said Alberta likely won’t be able to set up a phone line to report Albertans not following self-isolation rules after returning from travel or feeling sick.

Click to play video: 'Alberta announces 49 new cases of COVID-19'
Alberta announces 49 new cases of COVID-19

However, Dr. Deena Hinshaw encouraged people to kindly remind them of the immense repercussions.

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“Remind them that this is not something they should be taking lightly. Staying home is saving lives.”

She said that all professional health colleges — that help regulate and monitor health professionals — will take reports of their members not following the rules and remind them of their professional obligation.

The justice ministry is looking at methods of enforcing the rules impacting public places, capacity limits, businesses and schools.

Penalties vary worldwide

In Australia, punishments are different state to state.

Under the New South Wales Public Health Act, anyone entering Australia from another country must isolate for two weeks, with fines up to $11,000 CDN or six months’ prison time if they don’t comply.

Corporations that break the mass gathering ban can face a one-time fine of up to $55,000, as well as a $27,500 fine for every additional day they breach the ban.

Click to play video: 'Hinshaw emphasizes self-isolation and online diagnostic tool as 811 sees higher volumes'
Hinshaw emphasizes self-isolation and online diagnostic tool as 811 sees higher volumes

In South Korea, people suspected to have contracted COVID-19 who refuse testing can be fined up to $3,500 under new changes to the country’s Infectious Disease Prevent and Management legislation.

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Those who break quarantine can also face up to a year in prison or more than $11,000 in penalties.

In France, where the entire country is on lockdown, people must fill out a form justifying their reason for leaving home with fines ranging from $58 to $207.

In Norway, people breaking isolation rules could be slapped with up to $2,400 in tickets.

The government has also announced specific fines forbidding people from hunkering down in vacation homes in a bid to ease the strain on rural health services.

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