'Time for education has passed': City of Calgary to begin enforcement around health measures
CALGARY -- Saying "the time for education has passed," Calgary police and bylaw officers will begin ticketing those who violate health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic and say tickets are expected to be handed out Monday to organizers of anti-mask protests held over the weekend.
"Countless warnings have been issued to Calgarians in the past months in the hope of gaining voluntary compliance to provincial health orders," said Calgary police Supt. Ryan Ayliffe.
"We're now at a critical point in our society with COVID-19 cases soaring, therefore a time for education has passed, those who are flagrantly violating the orders and bylaws will be ticketed."
The province announced 1,733 new cases on Monday afternoon, a new daily high. The previous daily high, 1,731, was set on Saturday and on Sunday, there were 1,609 new cases announced.
Among the health measures currently in place, indoor gatherings are banned in the province and outdoor gatherings are capped at 10 people. Weddings and funerals can be held, with a maximum of 10 people in attedance, and receptions are not allowed. Indoor group fitness activities are also on hold and Albertans should only sit with people who live in the same household while at a bar or restaurant. Retail stores are reduced to 25 per cent of normal capacity.
Some Calgarians are questioning why fines were not handed out as hundreds of people marched through downtown Calgary as part of an anti-mask and anti-lockdown protest, which happened in conjunction with protests in Edmonton and Red Deer.
Ayliffe said officers were collecting evidence during the event and he expects tickets to be handed out to organizers starting Monday.
"Due to safety concerns for both law enforcement and members of the community, it is not always prudent to issue a ticket at the time of an alleged offence," he said.
"For example, during a protest or event where emotions are high, in many instances tickets are issued in the hours or days after the infraction based on evidence obtained at the time of the event. Please don't take the perceived appearance of lack of enforcement as a reflection of our intent to ticket those who flaunt the law."
Doug King, a justice studies professor at Mount Royal University, says strict protocols from either the province or police need to be in place so officers have a guide on how to enforce.
“(Or you will have) someone wanting to enforce every little violation that they find, to someone who will never enforce any of them,” he said.
King says police are in a hard spot when it comes to enforcing rallies, as there are not enough officers to do so.
“How are you going to enforce that, with 500 people,” he said.
“What are you going to do?”