Statement on physical distancing and enforcement

Community members are raising concerns about cases where physical distancing recommendations are not being observed. 

Physical distancing - remaining two metres or six feet apart from one another - is being championed by British Columbia's Ministry of Health as one of the primary ways to prevent transmission of COVID-19. 

The District of Squamish is working to champion this through public education and signage in the community, as well as proactive patrols by Squamish RCMP. Bylaw Officers are also supporting efforts by liaising with businesses to ensure that social distancing measures, or ordered closures are in place. Signs at trailheads, bus shelters and neighbourhood entrances are being installed.  

Confusion over whether local law enforcement agencies can enforce if people are not complying with social distancing recommendations is apparent.

Thursday's provincial announcement from Minister Mike Farnworth (March 26, 2020) allows for local enforcement of the Provincial Health Officer's orders, and at this time, there are currently five orders in place. The only order for physical distancing specifically relates to mass gatherings of groups of 50+ people, therefore enforcement of smaller groups of people is not possible under the ministerial orders.

"It is critical that citizens take responsibility for their own actions and get serious about social distancing," says District of Squamish Mayor, Karen Elliott. "This is how British Columbia and Canada can break the chain of transmission, flatten the curve, and manage this pandemic effectively. Looking to climbing rates of infections in other countries, it is clear that the recommendations of our Health Authorities - to be physically distant from one another and stay home as much as possible - can and are working. This is how we protect our seniors and our most vulnerable citizens. By acting today."

(With the exception of the City of Vancouver, the Province has suspended all local states of emergency to ensure consistency with the provincial declaration of a state of emergency. This means that Squamish is unable to pass local bylaws giving us additional authority). 

March 27, 2020

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