Victoria police arrested a man and issued a second fine early Sunday morning at the same apartment where officers had already doled out a $2,300 penalty to hosts of a party that broke COVID-19 regulations this weekend.
Officers broke up the initial event Friday night, where they estimated 40-60 people were breaking physical distancing rules in a one-bedroom apartment.
Just after midnight on Sunday, police were called back to the same apartment in the 1000-block of Fort Street for a noise complaint.
This time, there were 15 people in the unit, according to police.
B.C. cracks down on those violating COVID-19 safety measures
Officers told the attendees they were shutting the event down, and said everyone was compliant except for one person.
The man was arrested and fined $200 plus a $30 victim surcharge for “abusive or belligerent behaviour at a social gathering.”
Victoria Police Chief Del Manak took to Twitter Sunday to express outrage.
“This is unbelievable & unacceptable,” he wrote.
“(Victoria police) required to attend the same apartment for the second night in a row for a COVID-19 violation. This is proof that asking for voluntary compliance & appealing to people’s common sense doesn’t work with some. Proud of all others.”
Both fines at the apartment this weekend were issued under new powers Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth granted to police and other compliance officers on Friday.
“It’s pretty clear that whoever is in that building clearly isn’t very bright — we were very public with the announcement that there were new penalties in place,” said Farnworth, Sunday.
“We’re not going to stand by and let a small minority of people undo all the hard work that the vast majority of people in this province have been doing.
READ MORE: $2,000 fines to be issued to enforce B.C. COVID-19 public health rules
Under those powers, police can fine event hosts or property owners up to $2,000 and individuals up to $200 for violating COVID-19 provincial health orders. Individuals can also be fined if they refuse to leave an event or are “belligerent.”
The public health order most relevant to officers’ new powers bans gatherings of more than 50 people.
However, under that same order, gatherings with fewer than 50 people must still follow strict rules.
Those restrictions include controlling access to the event and ensuring guests can keep two metres apart. Hosts must also collect names and contact information from all attendees.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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