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Nearly 1,200 physical distancing warnings issued by Vancouver park rangers
VANCOUVER -- Park rangers have issued about 1,200 warnings to people for not following physical distancing rules since the City of Vancouver declared a local state of emergency.
Rangers gave out 1,179 warnings between March 20 and March 31, averaging about 98 warnings per day, according to numbers provided by the Vancouver Park Board.
Rangers were the busiest last Sunday, issuing 233 warnings while weather in the city was crisp but sunny.
The statistics don't fully reflect how many people were caught breaking the rules either – a spokesperson for the park board noted that many of the warnings were issued to groups, which would only count as a single warning.
Vancouver city council passed a bylaw amendment last month allowing bylaw officers to fine people up to $1,000 for violating physical distancing rules during the state of emergency, at their discretion.
Businesses can face fines as high as $50,000.
Criminology professor Rob Gordon from Simon Fraser University said it's important to begin with education and warnings before levelling heavy fines on people.
"The threat is there of a fine and that's great," Gordon said. "To go in boots and all and heavy handed, that would not work. There'll be all sorts of nasty pushback."
Last week, the city suspended the business licence of a Tim Hortons location on West Pender Street that had allegedly failed to limit the number of people allowed inside at one time.
Officials have also removed sitting logs from beaches in an effort to keep people from socializing in person against public health recommendations.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Alissa Thibault