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B.C. is cracking down on social gatherings. How will the rules be enforced?

Click to play video 'Bylaw officers and police ready to enforce B.C. health order to only gather in smaller groups' Bylaw officers and police ready to enforce B.C. health order to only gather in smaller groups
If you are considering hosting a big gathering, you may want to think twice. Bylaw officers and police are cracking down on the size of get-togethers held in B.C. As Grace Ke tells us, police departments are becoming part of the COVID-19 prevention strategy since Dr. Bonnie Henry's orders were announced – Oct 27, 2020

Surrey RCMP say they are prepared to deal with changes to public health orders, after B.C.’s top doctor announced the province is cracking down on the number of people allowed at social gatherings.

Following the highest-number of COVID-19 cases recorded yet in a single day, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Monday that she was limiting gatherings in private homes to no more than your immediate household plus your “safe six.”

Click to play video 'New COVID-19 restrictions on private gatherings in B.C.' New COVID-19 restrictions on private gatherings in B.C.
New COVID-19 restrictions on private gatherings in B.C – Oct 27, 2020

That refers to the six additional people in your household’s bubble, not six additional people per person living in your house.

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Surrey RCMP said they expect to be busy, especially with Halloween just around the corner.

“We are anticipating that we will see probably an increase in the number of reports that we’re getting from the public, which we will be looking into,” Cpl. Elenore Sturko said.

Click to play video 'Dr. Bonnie cracks down on gatherings in private homes' Dr. Bonnie cracks down on gatherings in private homes
Dr. Bonnie cracks down on gatherings in private homes – Oct 26, 2020

“Recently we did give out $2,300 fine at a residence that was not in compliance with public health orders.

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Enforcement typically starts with a complaint from neighbours that is followed up by bylaw and police officers.

“So if a person has concerns that perhaps there is a gathering in a home that’s exceeding the provincial health recommendations, what they should do is call their municipal police authority in order to make a complaint,” criminal defence lawyer Sarah Leamon said.

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“That complaint would be processed the same as really any other regular police complaint. And more likely than not, police or bylaw authorities would end up knocking on their door and trying to see if rules are being followed or not.”

Read more: Vancouver councillor says more resources needed to enforce new COVID-19 fines

In March, RCMP and Surrey bylaw officers launched the COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team. In August, police and other provincial officers were given the power to issue violation tickets for large gatherings.

So far, the Surrey team has made 69,800 compliance checks and found 220 instances of non-compliance. Ten violation tickets have been issued, most to businesses.

Click to play video 'How the province may enforce new restrictions on private gatherings' How the province may enforce new restrictions on private gatherings
How the province may enforce new restrictions on private gatherings – Oct 27, 2020

Vancouver police have issued two violation tickets — a $2,000 fine in August to a basement tenant who hosted a party and a $200 fine in September to an individual who failed to comply.

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With the majority of recent COVID-19 cases occurring in the Fraser Health region, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said he is launching a series of videos to encourage residents to abide by health and safety protocols.

“We are actually taking it very seriously in Surrey we are encouraging our residents to tighten up a little bit but we’re also encouraging them to get out in the open air in our parks,” he said.

Read more: Police break up West Vancouver rager, one person fined under COVID-19 rules

On Tuesday, B.C. reported more than 200 new COVID-19 cases for the seventh consecutive day.

Tuesday’s provincial numbers came as Canada reached another grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 deaths connected to the novel coronavirus.

— With files from Janet Brown and The Canadian Press