COVID-19 compliance hotline up and running in New Westminster
Photo by CTV Vancouver's Pete Cline in Chopper 9 on Monday, June 4, 2018.
VANCOUVER -- The City of New Westminster has set up a dedicated phone line and email for people to report any concerns they have with others not following recommended health guidelines during the current pandemic.
The city’s manager of licensing and integrated services Kim Deighton told CTV News Vancouver the reporting system they’re calling the “Covid Compliance Hotline” started operating Friday night.
Deighton said the phone line and email account are monitored by administration staff, who then can dispatch a two-person team including a bylaw officer to investigate.
“What was happening is a number of different departments were getting calls, so bylaws was getting calls, parks was getting calls, the mayor’s office,” Deighton said. “And so it just made sense to have a centralized line where those could all be collected and addressed in one standardized manner.”
As of Sunday, the line had received 13 reports of issues.
“People can call with any of their concerns,” Deighton said. “What we’re finding is people are quite sensitive right now, and quite vigilant, and sometimes they have misinformation or they’re a little bit confused so they require clarification.”
The city’s manager of communications and economic development Blair Fryer said they’re focussed on education for now.
“Some of that sensitivity is around people observing what they feel is not adequate social distancing,” he said. “People may be complaining about social distancing, not understanding that residents of the same family that live in the same residence can be in a park walking together closer than six feet apart.”
Fryer said they do want to hear about any issues with businesses that may not be following the rules, but adds they’ve seen “broad compliance” across the city.
“We’re not seeing any flagrant violation,” Fryer said.
Deighton said they’ve been able to share best practices with businesses who are already observing social distancing, such as putting lines on the floor to ensure customers keep further apart.
“We’re seeing businesses really take this seriously and try their best and when we attend, they’re always very open to suggestions,” Deighton said.
At this time, the city said there is no fining system in place for non-compliance.
“We’re finding that education tends to be quite productive in that, and we’ll look at enforcement if we need to later but we haven’t had to get to that point yet,” Fryer said. “Stay safe, practice social distancing, stay aware and follow the orders of the provincial health officer and we’ll get through this together .”
People can reach the New Westminster Covid Compliance Line by phone at 604-636-4343, or via email at email@example.com.