Violation Tickets for Unsafe COVID-19 Behaviour

Under the Emergency Program Act (EPA), people who organize large, unsafe gatherings or ignore provincial health orders relating to mass gatherings and events can be issued a fine or violation ticket of either $200 or $2,000.

Last updated: September 24, 2020

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Violation tickets for owners, operators and event organizers

Fines of $2,000 can be applied to owners, operators and event organizers. They are subject to a fine if:

  • A private party or gathering is held with more than 50 people
  • Access to the space or venue is not controlled
  • People don't have enough space to maintain 2 m of physical distancing, no matter the number of people in attendance
  • Physical barriers between performers, presenters and guests are insufficient
  • Hand sanitation supplies and washroom facilities are not readily available for guests, no matter the number of people in attendance
  • A gathering is held at an accommodation rental site with more than five guests in attendance (guest total does not include the people staying on the property)

This includes:

  • Drive-ins with more than 50 vehicles present

Remember, even if your event has fewer than 50 people in attendance, the violation can still apply. This includes parties in private homes. 

Hosts or organizers of events

Fines of $2,000 can be applied to organizers of events. They are subject to a fine if they fail to:

  • Follow the mass gatherings PHO order
  • Collect the names and phone numbers of guests
  • Keep the names and phone numbers of guests for 30 days

Owners of vacation accommodation

Fines of $2,000 can be applied to owners of vacation accommodation. They are subject to a fine if they don't:

  • Ensure that at a gathering or event has a maximum of five people in addition to the accommodation occupants is followed

Violation tickets for food and liquor serving premises

Fines of $2,000 can be applied to owners, operators and event organizers. They are subject to a fine if:

  • An event is held in a banquet hall
  • A nightclub does not cease to operate as a nightclub
  • Background music or other background sounds, such as from televisions is louder than the volume of normal conversation
  • Liquor is served outside the hours of 11:00 am to 10:00 pm, even if the establishment provides a full meal service
  • If an establishment does not provide full meal service, does not close by 11:00 pm with all patrons having vacated the premises
  • Liquor is consumed on premises by owners, operators or staff after 11:00 pm
  • Liquor service at private events does not cease at 10:00 pm

If food or liquor serving premises hold private events, like wedding receptions, the same rules that hotels and other venues must follow apply to these premises.

Review the PHO Order – Food and Liquor Serving Premises (PDF)

Violation tickets for individuals

Fines of $200 can be applied to individuals with the following behaviour.

At an event or gathering

Subject to a fine if you:

  1. Actively encourage other people to attend the gathering or event even though the event does not comply with the PHO order
  1. Refuse to leave or disperse from the event or gathering when directed to do so by an enforcement officer

At a restaurant or bar

Subject to a fine if you:

  1. Do not vacate the premise by 11:00 pm 
  2. Respond with abusive behaviour towards a restaurant or bar employee

How will tickets be given out?

Violation tickets can be issued by: 

  • Police officers
  • Community safety unit
  • Liquor and cannabis inspectors
  • Gaming inspectors
  • Conservation officers

WorkSafeBC investigators will assist through their existing authorities and tools.

If violation tickets do not act as a deterrent, or in cases of particularly egregious contraventions or for repeat offenders, police can recommend chargers in relation to the offence. On conviction, judicial penalties of up to $10,000 may be levied. 

Working with local governments

The Province is also working with local governments to target individuals and businesses who fail to comply with PHO orders. 

  • This may include revoking business or liquor licenses where issues occur

Reporting possible violations

To report concerns around PHO order violations from event organizers, venues or individuals, contact your local government’s bylaw office.

  • Local bylaw officers can help follow up on concerns, and engage police departments and WorkSafeBC as necessary

If you are unable to reach a local bylaw office, contact your local police department’s non-emergency line.

  • Calling 9-1-1 is only appropriate in serious situations

Paying or disputing a ticket

You have 30 days from the date the ticket was issued to either pay or dispute the ticket. This is consistent with other violation tickets for other offences, such as traffic tickets.

Dispute a ticket

You have up to 30 days to dispute a Provincial Violation Ticket. This is the usual process and has not changed.

  • Information on how to dispute a ticket is written on the ticket

Refusal to pay

If you refuse to pay the fine but don't dispute the ticket, after 30 days you are considered to have pleaded guilty and the full amount continues to be due.

  • If you can’t afford to pay the fine, you can dispute the fine amount. This dispute will be adjudicated by the courts