New nightlife and liquor service laws in B.C. now subject to enforcement, fines for violations

Police and other provincial agencies will be enforcing the most recent set of COVID-19 restrictions for bars, restaurants, nightclubs and banquet halls.

The provincial government says police and other provincial agencies will be enforcing the most recent set of COVID-19 restrictions for bars and restaurants

In a news release late Sunday, the government said enforcement action will focus on $2,000 fines for owners of establishments that violate the provincial health orders. $200 fines are also available for individual patrons who do not cooperate. 

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The orders announced on Aug. 21 and formalized last week moved last call for liquor sales in bars and restaurants to 10 p.m., with establishments that do not serve food forced to close at 11 p.m.

Nightclubs are being ordered to “cease operating as nightclubs,” banquet halls have been closed and background music or TVs can be no louder than conversation level. 

While the rules were announced a month ago, there was nobody to enforce them, leading some nightclubs to continue to operate in violation of the orders. It took until Friday for the order to be put in writing and placed online, something that frustrated restaurant owners.

The provincial government said it was providing a "grace period" to allow for businesses to adjust.

In addition to police; liquor, cannabis and gaming inspectors, community safety unit inspectors, and conservation officers will also be able to issue tickets. 

"We released our economic recovery plan last week, and we have an opportunity to lead the country as we support a strong recovery. Now, more than ever, we all need to follow the guidelines of the provincial health officer," Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said. "These updated measures ensure police have the tools necessary to continue enforcing the PHO's orders on unsafe gatherings."

Those who have concerns about any public health order being violated are being asked to contact their local bylaw department, who can issue recommendations or hand the file off to authorities for enforcement.

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