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Coronavirus: Penticton cracks down on social-distancing rule breakers

B.C. government enacts new emergency measures for essential services
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has announced B.C. is taking a more active role in coordinating the movement of goods and services in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Keith Baldrey has the details.

The City of Penticton says it’s cracking down on people and businesses who don’t follow social-distancing rules, now that bylaw officers have new powers to enforce public health orders to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

From March 25 to Monday morning, bylaw officers responded to four complaints of businesses breaking an order, three complaints related to people at or inside a closed facility, and six complaints about social-distancing not being followed in a public area.

Officers also investigated a complaint of a person allegedly not self-isolating after an international flight, said bylaw services supervisor Tina Siebert.

All of the complaints except for one were verified as breaches of public health orders, she added.

What Burnaby is doing to enforce social distancing during COVID-19 crisis
What Burnaby is doing to enforce social distancing during COVID-19 crisis

“We are sharing information with our provincial health partners on a case-by-case basis, so they may have the information to conduct their investigations,” Siebert said in an email.

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Last week, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth authorized municipal bylaw officers to enforce public health orders through education and warnings.

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“This is intended to allow our team of bylaw officers to help with enforcing the closure of public spaces and take that burden off of the RCMP,” said Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki.

“I urge everyone to follow the orders and to not put yourselves or others at risk.”

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Any concerns related to use of city amenities that are closed to the public, such as playgrounds or sporting fields, can be reported to Bylaw Services at bylaw@penticton.ca or by calling (250) 490-2440.

“We are asking citizens to use their judgement and only report infractions where groups are blatantly gathering in public spaces and ignoring the requirements for social distancing,” said Siebert.

B.C.’s provincial health officer on enforcing social-distance rules and keeping essential services going
B.C.’s provincial health officer on enforcing social-distance rules and keeping essential services going

The increased authority will remain in place as long as the provincial declaration of a state of emergency continues.

The City of Vernon issued a media release on Monday clarifying that bylaw officers are not authorized to detain people or issue penalties for contraventions.

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Sweeping restrictions were put in place this month on large gatherings, international travel and businesses to help curb the rate of COVID-19 transmission.

These include a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, and the closing of casinos, bars and nightclubs.

Personal service establishments, such as nail salons, tattoo parlours, barbershops, beauty parlours and health spas, are also closed. Restaurants and cafés can serve takeout or delivery only.

For COVID-19 information in Penticton, click here.