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Vancouver approves up to $50k in fines for ignoring emergency coronavirus measures

City of Vancouver approves social distancing violation fines
Bylaw officers can now fine businesses up to $50-thousand for not following physical distancing rules and as Jennifer Palma reports, they have the authority to fine individuals who are ignoring the guidelines as well.

Vancouver city council has voted unanimously in favour of a motion aimed at enforcing social-distancing measures during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Council met virtually on Monday morning to vote on an amendment to the city’s emergency powers bylaw that would allow bylaw officers to issue penalties to anyone either gathering in large groups or not doing what they can to keep two metres apart.

Enforcing social distancing during the coronavirus crisis
Enforcing social distancing during the coronavirus crisis

The amendment includes fines that could reach as high as $50,000 for businesses that fail to comply with emergency measures.

Enforcement officers would also be able to issue municipal tickets to individuals, as well as a fine of $1,000, the maximum amount allowed under the Vancouver Charter.

READ MORE: Metro Vancouver cities close outdoor sports areas as youth defy coronavirus measures

City Manager Sadhu Johnston said the City prefers not to use a “heavy hand,” instead opting to continue to educate the public about the need for social distancing.
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But the ability to issue fines, Johnston said, will be used if needed.

Johnston said four bylaw enforcement officers visited nearly 1,600 businesses over the weekend, and issued more than a dozen orders for non-compliance.

Shaming people into being socially responsible
Shaming people into being socially responsible

The Vancouver Park Board has closed parking lots at the city’s most popular parks and beaches, along with all outdoor sports areas. The parks themselves remain open to the public.

Stewart has previously expressed frustration over residents who refused to adhere to social-distancing guidelines.

“This weekend, I saw reports of people hosting house parties, having group picnics on the beach, playing soccer, playing beer pong,” he said. “Beer pong.

“This isn’t a game. People are dying.”