Stricter penalties are on the way for those who ignore public health guidelines, after the province reported a record-breaking jump in COVID-19 cases.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said that government ministries met Monday to map out a “more comprehensive approach to increase enforcement.”
“We cannot let a few wreck it for everybody else, and that is the reason why action is being taken,” said Dix, speaking from Vancouver Monday afternoon during the latest COVID-19 update.
While he didn’t provide details, Dix said the government will be “taking further steps to impose stricter penalties,” and the plan will “optimize” the use of enforcement officers outside of public health, for example, municipalities, police departments and WorkSafe BC.
Dix said the plan will come into effect later this week, once it’s announced by B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
B.C. recorded 236 new COVID-19 cases between Friday and Monday, including 100 cases on Saturday – the largest single-day jump so far. There are now 743 active cases in the province.
Since late June, the majority of new cases have been driven by young people in their 20s and 30s.
A string of public exposure alerts has been issued recently for restaurants, bars, night clubs and stores across the Lower Mainland.
And over the weekend, videos emerged of large gatherings – with little social distancing – including drum circles and a late-night street party in Vancouver.
However, Dix said that the “greatest danger” remains private, indoor parties.
“We are continuing to review what can be done about those, and continuing to engage with people and discourage people from hosting such gatherings,” he said.
Dix said that while 50 is the maximum number of people permitted at a gathering in B.C., however, depending on the event and the location, the number of guests that is safe could be “considerably” lower.