Albertans who break coronavirus health orders could pay up to $500K fine

Click to play video: 'Edmonton police chief on working in the public during a pandemic' Edmonton police chief on working in the public during a pandemic
WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton Police Service members are working in uncharted territory as they deal with COVID-19. It's the first time since the Spanish Flu in 1918 that police have to do their job in the middle of a pandemic. Gord Steinke talks with Chief Dale McFee about how officers are coping with this new reality and the new trends in the calls they're responding to – Mar 30, 2020

Police and peace officers across the province have been given the go-ahead from the Alberta government to enforce public health orders in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This means people and businesses who do not adhere to the Public Health Act orders in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus could face hefty fines.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: AHS issues orders to 6 gyms in Alberta for failing to close

The Edmonton Police Service said Thursday it will focus on communication and education over enforcement. However, fines could range anywhere from $1,000 to $500,000, depending on the circumstances.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Police Service to enforce COVID-19 public health orders' Edmonton Police Service to enforce COVID-19 public health orders
Edmonton Police Service to enforce COVID-19 public health orders – Apr 2, 2020

Violators may be subject to tickets of $1,000 per occurrence, according to the provincial government. Courts could administer fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and up to $500,000 for a subsequent offence for more serious violations.

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“The fundamental focus is for all citizens to adhere to compliance within the orders,” said Supt. Dean Hilton, of the EPS Pandemic Command.

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“An enforcement mechanism is now at our disposal for those who demonstrate utter disregard to follow the orders that have been established in the interests of public safety.

“We are experiencing a critical health situation that requires everyone’s compliance versus a necessity to levy fines to businesses or individuals during this challenging time.”

On April 29, Edmonton police said they have responded to 453 alleged incidents related to COVID-19 public health orders and have issued 46 tickets since March 23. EPS didn’t provide details about what those specific incidents were.

READ MORE: Alberta ramping up enforcement of public health orders; number of confirmed COVID-19 cases climbs to 419

So what could residents and businesses be fined for? Here’s a breakdown of the main violations that police, peace and bylaw officers can be called upon to enforce:

Large public gatherings

Gatherings of more than 15 people are prohibited. This includes both indoor and outdoor gatherings, including places of worship, weddings and funerals.

14-day self isolation

All returning international travellers must self-isolate for 14 days, as well as anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19.

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10-day self isolation

People experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate for a minimum 10 days or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer. The most current information on symptoms can be found on the Alberta Health Services website.

Access to nursing homes

Access has been limited to all nursing homes, designated supportive living and long-term care facilities, seniors lodges and residential addiction treatment facilities to essential visitors only.

Non-essential retail and health services

Non-essential retail businesses are prohibited from offering services in a location accessible to the public. These include clothing stores, gift, hobby, antique and specialty stores.

Non-essential health and beauty care providers are also prohibited from offering services.

Recreation and entertainment

Albertans are prohibited from attending all public recreation facilities and private entertainment facilities, including gyms, swimming pools and arenas, science centres, museums and art galleries, libraries, community centres, children’s play centres, bowling alleys casinos, racing entertainment centres and bingo halls.

The EPS stressed it will not issue tickets to people who are carpooling.

“Carpooling is allowed for families to travel together or co-workers to travel to work together in the same vehicle,” the EPS said Thursday.

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There are some exemptions to these rules, which can be found on the Alberta government’s website.

Anyone who sees people or businesses not following the rules is asked not to call 911, but instead file a complaint online.

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