COVID-19-related fines issued in 3 B.C. cities over the weekend

Police in 3 B.C. cities including Surrey, Richmond and Victoria, say they had to issue a number of violation tickets to businesses and event organizers over the weekend, following "repeated contraventions" of the provincial health officer's COVID-19 orders.

In a statement Monday, RCMP said the Surrey COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team issued $2,300 fines to four separate venues on Aug. 23, including one restaurant, two event or banquet spaces and one after-hours club.

Each of the fined venues and restaurant had previously been warned by the compliance team, the statement said.

On Aug. 21, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General announced new fines of up to $2,300 would be issued to anyone flouting the provincial health orders.

Canuck fans ignore provincial orders

Despite the public announcement, RCMP said upwards of 1,000 Canuck fans gathered at the corner of Scott Road and 72nd Avenue that same day.

The statement said both Surrey RCMP and Delta police were called to attend the scene, but because the crowd was so large, officers were forced to focus solely on pedestrian and traffic safety.

"Canuck fans who gathered in large groups without masks on Friday night should consider this to be their warning," Sgt. Roger Green of the Surrey COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team said.

Officers issued a total of seven tickets for seat belt violations, after people were seen hanging out of vehicle windows and sunroofs, the statement said.

"The public and the police are not happy with the disregard for physical distancing and expect you to do better for the sake of your families, yourselves and your fellow residents," police said in a written statement.

The compliance team said it conducted a total of 429 checks on Saturday and Sunday at various businesses, event spaces and faith-based institutions.

Surrey RCMP said all of them, with the exception of the four this weekend, were in compliance with provincial health orders.

Police also said officers will be back at 72nd Avenue and Scott Road after each Canuck playoff game to ensure such large crowds do not gather in the same way again.

Victoria house party violations

Victoria police issued fines involving two parties held in the same apartment on separate nights on Friday and Saturday in the1000-block of Fort Street.

The host was fined $2,300 Friday night for a large gathering that police believe was attended by as many as 60 people throughout the evening but no fine was issued for the second party on Saturday.

Officers discovered a group of 15 people in the one-bedroom suite apartment in the early morning hours of Sunday morning and told the host and guests that the party was over.

One guest was arrested for obstructing a peace officer after refusing to co-operate and received a $230 fine for violating the COVID-19 Related Measures Act "for abusive or belligerent behaviour at a social gathering."

Richmond sports facility fined

In Richmond, RCMP say they issued a ticket to a business in the 2300-block of No. 6 Road after receiving a complaint on Saturday, Aug. 22, that management at a sports facility was not complying with physical distancing rules and regulations.

Police said the operator of the facility was issued a $2,300 fine after officers attended the business and found there was "a significant amount of people past the 50-person limit," as set out in provincial health guidelines.

Richmond RCMP said the location wasn't following other COVID-19 protocols, doing little to encourage physical distancing, proper sanitization or contact tracing.