As the province mandates the wearing of masks in public places, enforceable by a $230 fine, officials in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows expect the public to continue its compliance with public health orders.
Coronavirus has been surging in the province, hitting a new daily high of 941 cases on Tuesday.
There have been a range of public health orders to try and bring the pandemic under control, and that now includes wearing masks while inside indoor public spaces, including retail spaces. Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the mandate is part of the Emergency Program Act, which grants extraordinary powers to officials during a crisis, and violators could be fined $230.
Michelle Orsetti, Maple Ridge director of bylaws and licences, said her department will educate businesses in the city, to ensure they are getting their customers to mask up.
“We are educating everyone on the new rules,” she said, noting members of her department are conducting spot checks at local businesses day and night.
She notes a business is a private place, and they have the right to refuse service to anyone who does not wear a mask.
Those business owners who refuse to comply with the public health orders face consequences such as having their business licences pulled by the city, or being reported to Worksafe BC.
She said the Ridge Meadows RCMP will likely be writing the $230 tickets to individuals who are not wearing masks in public. Those who are belligerent could potentially face charges.
Police are expecting the public to cooperate.
“Ridge Meadows RCMP believe that education is always the priority in these situations however, police will enforce if required,” said spokesperson Const. Julie Klaussner. “Each situation is unique and would be handled accordingly and I don’t believe that speculating on the negative of how people could react (when asked to wear a mask) will bring people in the community together.
“Police are hopeful that everyone will abide by the COVID-19 Related Measures Act and help in keeping all our loved ones safe during these unprecedented times.”
Orsetti sees people in the city as doing their part to beat back the virus.
“Most people in Maple Ridge, I feel, are complying,” she said, and added most businesses have a COVID Plan.Those who don’t are working with the city to get one.
Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall also said people in his city are doing their part. During the shutdown earlier this year, a Pitt Meadows restaurant allowed customers to be seated inside, but after a warning from they city, they stopped.
“So far, generally, there is a lot of compliance,” said Dingwall, adding people have been wearing masks inside public spaces already.
The statistics appear to reflect people in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows taking steps to avoid transmitting COVID-19. The BC Centre for Disease Control shows Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows as having 285 cases in 2020, until the end of October. That is on the low end of the local health areas in Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health. Some neighbouring cities have much higher stats over the same period, with Surrey at 3,993 and Abbotsford 880.