VANCOUVER -- Mounties in Richmond say they issued more than $16,000 in fines to partygoers for violating provincial COVID-19 rules last week.

In a news release Thursday, Richmond RCMP announced that they had discovered two large parties in their city last weekend.

Social gatherings of any size have been prohibited in B.C. since November, when public health orders were put in place to slow down an alarming increase in COVID-19 transmission.

Police said they were called to the first party around 11:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 5, after receiving a report of several people entering and exiting a commercial building in the 5700 block of Cedarbridge Way, near Lansdowne Road.

Officers arrived to find "what appeared to be an ongoing party," police said in their release.

Sixteen people in attendance received $230 tickets for violating provincial health orders, while the organizer of the event was issued a $2,300 ticket, police said.

A few hours later, around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6, officers discovered another large gathering, police said. This one was in the 12600 block of Vickers Way, near Bridgeport Road.

There were 26 patrons at this gathering, according to police. Each one received a $230 ticket, and two organizers of the event each received a $2,300 ticket.

RCMP said their investigation is ongoing, noting that they're working to determine any other business or liquor-related charges that may apply.

“The Richmond RCMP is committed to promoting safety in our community, and we will continue to investigate these kinds of circumstances to the fullest,” said the Officer In Charge of the Richmond RCMP, Chief Supt. Will Ng, in the news release.

Richmond RCMP are asking residents of the city who learn of similar events being organized to call them at 604-278-1212.