Despite rumours, Surrey RCMP say they are not issuing tickets to people if they are driving in a vehicle with others from a different household. (File photo)

Despite rumours, Surrey RCMP say they are not issuing tickets to people if they are driving in a vehicle with others from a different household. (File photo)

COVID-19 tickets: No, RCMP aren’t checking vehicle occupancies, restaurant tables

Enforcement about education, not punishment says Surrey RCMP Cpl. Joanie Sidhu

Despite rumours to the contrary, the Surrey RCMP say officers are not conducting COVID-19 compliance road checks and examining IDs to make sure passengers are all from the same household.

Surrey RCMP Cpl. Joanie Sidhu told Peace Arch News Friday morning that “we’ve heard those rumours, too,” but such checks are not happening.

“It’s not true. We are not doing COVID-compliance checks in vehicles,” she said.

The subject of road checks was brought up after a handful of residents on social media suggested that a police officers were checking IDs at a road block near the South Surrey Park and Ride on King George Boulevard Thursday evening.

Sidhu could not confirm a road check was carried out at that location, but said if there had been one, it would have been a standard road check, with officers looking for impaired drivers, among other driving infractions.

• READ ALSO: Surrey’s COVID-19 compliance team issues 11 tickets so far for November

However, while tickets are not being handed out for COVID-19 non-compliance at these stoppages, Sidhu said if officers do see rules being broken, they may take the opportunity to education passengers on the rules.

“We want to gain compliance through education,” she said, adding that there is no provision or order for officers to write tickets for having people from multiple households in one vehicle.

Sidhu also debunked a related rumour – that RCMP officers are actively approaching tables of people at busy restaurants and checking to make sure all diners were from the same home.

Sidhu said officers have been doing “pro-active checks” at businesses since the pandemic began back in the spring, but those visits are focused more on the businesses than the customers – making sure that all COVID-19 safety protocols are in place.

However, Sidhu reiterated that officers, if they see COVID rules being skirted, may choose to remind individuals about the current health orders.

“While an officer is at at business doing a check, they are well within their enforcement rights to make those inquiries, so it’s possible that an officer may have asked that question, but… what’s more important here, that they are asking the question or that people are doing things they shouldn’t be doing?

“It’s the responsibility of the citizens to make sure they’re complying. If Dr. Bonnie Henry says you shouldn’t be going to restaurants with people who aren’t in your household, then you shouldn’t be doing that.”

Sidhu also pointed out that in some cases, no matter the scenario, education is what is needed – especially for those people who are not as plugged into current events as others.

“There are always people are don’t use social media or don’t follow the news, so we understand that there are people out there who simply don’t know what the orders are, or don’t know how to follow them. For those individuals, it’s our goal to give them that information,” she said.

That said, individuals will only get so many chances.

“If we see that once a person has been given that education there are still more instances of non-compliance, then chances are they will be issued a ticket,” Sidhu said.

“It really depends on the situation. If, through our officers’ investigation, they determine that someone is being willfully blind to the rules, or they’re trying to find those loopholes, they’ll be issued a ticket, but… sometimes it is clear that a person just isn’t aware, and those are the people we want to help.”



editorial@peacearchnews.com

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