(Mike Farnworth/BC Gov News)

B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General has introduced new enforcement measures to make sure residents comply with COVID-19 public health orders.

In an announcement Friday morning, Farnworth stated that effective immediately, police and other enforcement officers will be able to issue $2,000 violation tickets to owners and organizers of events and gatherings hosted in contravention to public health orders in place during the pandemic.

These fines can be issued to those hosting gatherings or events with 50 or more people, not keeping a list of contact information of guests for contact tracing purposes, and for hosting more than five guests at a vacation rental property like AirBnB.

“There is a small minority of selfish individuals across the province who are disregarding the public health measures in place,” said Farnworth.

“There is no excuse to disregard the responsibility we share to keep each other safe in this pandemic, and we’ve all seen it in the news or in our neighbourhoods. Enough is enough.”

In addition, enforcement officers will be able to issue $200 violation tickets for anyone actively encouraging gatherings or events, or refusing to leave when asked to do so.

$200 violation tickets can also be issued for those refusing to comply with business safety plans or anyone bullying employees at businesses for trying to enforce those plans.

To assist police, Farnworth says the province is calling on staff from various ministries, or special constables, and giving them the ability to issue fines for the duration of the pandemic.

These enforcement officers will be using their discretion to issue tickets for Emergency Program Act order violations under the Offence Act’s Violation Ticket Administration and Fines Regulation.

In situations where there are “particularly egregious contraventions or for repeat offenders”, officers can recommend charges to Crown counsel and on conviction, penalties of up to $10,000 could be levied.

Venues or individuals concerned about people defying these orders can voice their concerns by contacting their local bylaw office, which can then contact police, public health officers, and WorkSafeBC to follow up.

Those who cannot reach their bylaw officers can call the non-emergency line of their local police department.