Maintaining physical distancing when in public to contain the spread of COVID-19 remains voluntary on the part of individuals but RCMP officers can now be asked to check that individuals required to stay at home for 14 days are doing exactly that.
Fourteen-day mandatory quarantine requirements for people returning home from abroad were ordered in late March but it was only last week when provincial officials began meeting returning travellers at border crossings at at Vancouver International Airport to determine they have a plan in place.
And as of late last week, RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki said her officers will check on individuals when asked to do so by health officials who determine such a move is necessary.
“Choosing to ignore mandatory isolation and quarantine orders is not only against the law, it’s also putting citizens, first responders, health professionals and the most vulnerable at risk of exposure to the virus,” she said.
Fines of up to $750,000 and six months in jail might be assessed for those who don’t comply.
Locally, Constable Crystal Evelyn of the Terrace RCMP detachment said the force will continue to work closely with local, provincial and national health agencies.
“As this is a public health situation, public health officials remain the best people to be providing education on social distancing to the public,” she said.
“In situations where the government has attached enforcement provisions, then we will discuss enforcement consequences with the public as directed, and will continue to assist the public health officers appropriately as requested.”
Meanwhile, City of Terrace official David Block says it has not seen an increase in COVID-19-related calls with only a few related to social distancing.
“Most other complaints and questions have been directed at businesses and have come through email or our social media accounts,” he said.
Still, the city remains committed to having its two bylaw officers available for monitoring, educating, and providing warnings for businesses and individuals not following the provincial [health] order, Block said.
“With the province’s latest announcement regarding mandatory self-isolation plans for anyone returning to Canada, we are awaiting more information in terms of if and how bylaw officers will be requested to assist with monitoring.”
To help clarify enforcement questions, the city indicates its bylaw and RCMP officers cannot detain an individual as a result of a contravention or suspected contravention of a public health order or issue fines or penalties in respect to public health orders.
But they can issue information and advice to individuals, monitor facilities and businesses that should be closed, help issue information, advice or warnings to encourage compliance and check on businesses that have been issued information, warnings or advice to ensure compliance.
“If you see a business operating in a way that concerns you, we encourage you to speak to their management to understand how they are abiding by the orders and recommendations from the provincial government,” the city indicates on its website.
“If after discussing with management, there is still a concern that the business is operating in contravention of a provincial order, please reach out to our bylaw department by emailing email@example.com or by calling 250-615-4037.”