In the wake of a community cluster of 60 COVID-19 cases at Big White that was announced on Tuesday, local police say they’ll be stepping up compliance patrols at the popular ski resort east of Kelowna.
Kelowna and West Kelowna RCMP say the extra patrols will help address community concerns regarding the sudden spike in cases, along with the “perceived lack of compliance with provincial public health orders in the remote region.”
Police say Big White is part of the Kelowna rural jurisdiction, which is the responsibility of West Kelowna RCMP.
They also say officers take part in a yearly ski patrol, along with performing additional patrols of the area during winter weekends and special events.
In a press release, though, RCMP said “due to the significant increase in COVID-19 cases, RCMP will be making changes to the policing of the area.”
“Due to concerns that have been brought to us by the community, we will be increasing our patrols and police presence in the area,” said Kelowna RCMP Insp. Kent Lowe.
“Our officers will be there to ensure public safety and will be taking necessary enforcement action.”
Police are reminding the public that if they engage in activities contrary to the provincial public health order, they can be issued a ticket.
Under the current COVID-19 Related Measures Act, owners or organizers of events can face fines of $2,300. Failure to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces, failure to comply with directions of an enforcement officer, or abusive or belligerent behaviour can result in a fine of $230.
“There is a unique situation occurring in the community of Big White,” said Kelowna RCMP Supt. Kara Triance.
“While we certainly can, and will enforce the provisions available to us under the COVID Related Measures Act, we continue to encourage everyone to voluntarily comply with the provincial health orders, so enforcement is not required.”