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New guidelines support compliance with Provincial Health Officer’s orders

THE Provincial Health Officer (PHO) has issued new guidelines to support compliance with orders on business closures and gatherings, under the Public Health Act.

The new guidelines for municipal bylaw officers and other compliance officers give clear instruction on warnings, public education and fines – and what can be issued by whom – to make sure there is compliance with the PHO’s orders and, if necessary, they are enforced consistently throughout B.C. communities.

“Local governments are key partners in ensuring the provincial health officer’s orders are obeyed so people in our communities can stay healthy,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “It’s important that communities, and those responsible for compliance, have clear and consistent guidelines to enforce the provincial health officer’s orders so businesses can adapt their workplaces and help keep people safe.”

To strengthen compliance and enforcement measures, the Province will redeploy provincial compliance staff from other ministries to support local governments under the direction of the PHO. This includes liquor and cannabis control and licensing inspectors, gambling enforcement and investigations officers, and community safety personnel.

As outlined in provincial orders issued last week, bylaw enforcement officers do not have the ability to detain an individual as a result of a contravention or suspected contravention of a public health order, or issue a fine or penalty, including an administrative penalty, under the Public Health Act.

Local bylaw and other compliance officers can, however, provide enforcement assistance for the PHO’s orders by:

* monitoring facilities and areas closed to the public by a public health order;

* providing warnings, information and advice to businesses and members of the public about public health orders, including warnings to businesses and members of the public who may be acting in contravention of a public health order; and

* providing information on potential contraventions of a public health order for followup by health authorities.

Compliance officers will provide public health agencies with recommendations and advice on whether further action is necessary. Any enforcement will be at the direction of the PHO or local medical health officer.

Public concerns regarding compliance with the PHO’s orders should be directed to local governments, who can dispatch bylaw officers for followup.

To view the PHO’s guidance toward compliance and enforcement, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/covid-19/compliance_and_enforcement_guidance_march_31_2020.pdf

All PHO orders and guidance documents can be found here: www.gov.bc.ca/PHOguidance

Quick Facts:

* Local governments are strongly encouraged to focus their enforcement efforts on PHO’s orders relating to COVID-19.
* This would provide a consistent approach throughout the province and reflects the PHO’s recommendations for individuals and communities.

* Local governments are encouraged to avoid adopting any parallel bylaws and instead, focus on supporting enforcement of the existing PHO’s orders.

* All guidance on enforcement of the PHO’s orders will be at the PHO’s request to police and overseen by a unified command structure overseen by the Police Services Branch and comprised of the ministries of Public Safety and Solicitor General; Attorney General; Municipal Affairs and Housing; and Emergency Management BC.

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