British Columbia has extended its state of emergency for a record 26th time, marking a year since it's maintained extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act.
The state of emergency was extended Tuesday until March 30, and allows officials to grant powers to policing bodies to issue tickets to owners, operators and event organizers who contravene public health orders meant to stem the spread of COVID-19.
"This is a sobering occasion, but with vaccinations ongoing in B.C., it's also one for hope and optimism,” said Premier John Horgan in a written statement Tuesday, March 16.
Port Coquitlam MLA and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth added: "I want to thank the majority of people in B.C. who are following the rules. For those who don't, our compliance and enforcement officers have the tools they need to enforce the orders. Know that if you break the rules, you will face consequences."
The province has upped rules and enforcement measures throughout the pandemic, leading to measures such as mandatory masks when in public indoor settings and expanded ticketing powers.
Between Aug. 21, 2020, and March 12, 2021, police and other enforcement bodies issued 1,471 violation tickets, including:
- 221 $2,300 tickets to owners or organizers who flouted the Provincial Health Office’s order on gatherings and events;
- 39 $2,300 violation tickets for contravening a food and liquor serving premises order;
- and 1,211 $230 tickets handed out to individuals who refused to comply with direction from law enforcement, according to a government press release issued Tuesday.
That’s a total of $876,530 in fines stemming from the violation of provincial COVID-19 restrictions.
Police across B.C. have also handed out 113 tickets to people breaking the Federal Quarantine Act, leading to just under $370,000 in fines.