One day after Calgary Gold’s Gym locations were under fire for disobeying capacity measures put in place during the coronavirus pandemic, new signs on Friday indicated the facilities were closed until further notice.
On March 17, Premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public health emergency. Under that order, Albertans were banned from going to recreational facilities where there could be 50 people or more.
Many other businesses that don’t need to close have still shut their doors – either as a precaution or due to public shaming.
Alberta Health Services says Gold’s Gym is the only business in Calgary that has been sent a closure order as of Friday afternoon.
On March 19, the City of Calgary extended its local state of emergency for another seven days, but some businesses breaking the rules are slipping through the cracks.
It’s left many wondering who is enforcing the new rules and what penalties people or businesses could face.
SASK with the mic drop.
$2000 fine on people who traveled within 14 days caught out and about.
— Lisa Dutton (@LDuttonGlobal) March 20, 2020
On Thursday, Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Tom Sampson said people can face fines for not following self-isolation or travel rules, and the amount would be set by the courts.
“Discussions about this issue are happening now; no decisions have been made,” Alberta Justice spokesperson Jason van Rassel said in an email to Global News.
“These discussions are specifically about enforcing compliance with public health orders directed at public institutions and banning public gatherings of more than 50 people.”
Gatherings must not exceed 50 people, that restriction includes recreation and private entertainment facilities. If Albertans see facilities that are not following these limitations and restrictions, they are asked to notify public health inspectors at Alberta Health Services through the online complaint form.
“If you’re seeing egregious things, call 311 like you normally would with a bylaw violation and we’ll move forward,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said at city hall Thursday.
On Friday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said Alberta likely won’t be able to set up a phone line to report Albertans not following self-isolation rules after returning from travel or feeling sick.
However, Dr. Deena Hinshaw encouraged people to kindly remind them of the immense repercussions.
“Remind them that this is not something they should be taking lightly. Staying home is saving lives.”
She said that all professional health colleges — that help regulate and monitor health professionals — will take reports of their members not following the rules and remind them of their professional obligation.
The justice ministry is looking at methods of enforcing the rules impacting public places, capacity limits, businesses and schools.
Penalties vary worldwide
In Australia, punishments are different state to state.
Under the New South Wales Public Health Act, anyone entering Australia from another country must isolate for two weeks, with fines up to $11,000 CDN or six months’ prison time if they don’t comply.
Corporations that break the mass gathering ban can face a one-time fine of up to $55,000, as well as a $27,500 fine for every additional day they breach the ban.
In South Korea, people suspected to have contracted COVID-19 who refuse testing can be fined up to $3,500 under new changes to the country’s Infectious Disease Prevent and Management legislation.
Those who break quarantine can also face up to a year in prison or more than $11,000 in penalties.
In France, where the entire country is on lockdown, people must fill out a form justifying their reason for leaving home with fines ranging from $58 to $207.
In Norway, people breaking isolation rules could be slapped with up to $2,400 in tickets.
The government has also announced specific fines forbidding people from hunkering down in vacation homes in a bid to ease the strain on rural health services.
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