It just got more expensive to attend a large party in defiance of COVID-19 public health measures.
On Thursday, B.C. more than doubled the fine for promoting and attending a non-compliant gathering or event from $230 to $575.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnsworth said recent gatherings that ignored COVID-19 public health orders show the risk of a $230 violation wasn’t enough to deter some people.
“Non-compliant events are a risky behaviour that can spread COVID-19 and jeopardize the health and safety of all British Columbians,” Farnworth told reporters Thursday. “It’s time to stop this selfish behaviour.”
Farnworth said simply sharing an event on social media could be considered promoting it. The virus continues to spread at banned events and gatherings, Farnworth said, noting that the potential for attending parties and events will increase as the weather gets warmer.
Especially egregious offences could also net someone criminal charges under the Emergency Program Act which carry a maximum penalty of a year in prison or a $10,000 fine.
The fine for those who organize or host a prohibited event remains at $2,300, while fines for a range of COVID-19 violations including not wearing a mask remain at $230.
More than 1,525 tickets for COVID-related offences have been issued in B.C., Farnworth said. That figure does not include people fined under the federal Quarantine Act. He insisted the province has enough resources to enforce the fines, including police, liquor inspectors, the province’s enforcement officers and conservation officers.
Asked if fines could be levied against people who attend anti-mask protests, Farnworth said that’s up to the discretion of police and enforcement officers but noted that people have the right to protest.
“But what we also see far too often are those who organize deliberate events designed to circumvent or ignore the provincial health officers orders,” he said. “Many take place in enclosed spaces, whether it’s condos or confined areas. They are going to face increased penalties.”
Details on COVID-19 violation tickets in B.C. can be found here.