Police say they did not ticket anyone related to public health orders banning gatherings last weekend.
“Yellowknife RCMP did not issue any fines over the weekend of April 10 to 13 regarding the recent Chief Public Health Officer ‘Banning Gatherings,’ or other public health orders,” RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon wrote. “The enforcement of the office of the chief public health orders regarding Covid-19 is with the GNWT.
The GNWT press secretary’s office said Monday night the territorial government likewise wasn’t responsible for any public health related fines for people who don’t live together travelling in the same vehicle.
The rumour mill started to grind on the weekend after a post on social media claimed a driver stopped by police was handed a $4,500 fine while the passenger was penalized $1,000 for not following social distancing protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19 because they were in the car together but did not share the same home address.
Last week, the GNWT introduced the NWT Compliance and Enforcement Task force. Officials said its members, more than 30 of them spread throughout the territory’s 33 communities, would work to ensure chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola’s orders are followed.
They will be designated as peace officers who can “issue tickets and impose fines of up to $10,000 on the first offense.”
But on Monday, the GNWT Department of Health and Social Services provided a statement to Yellowknife media outlets through the legislative assembly’s press secretary that said members of the new task force would not have the authority to conduct a traffic stop. It said no one had been fined and no charges under the Public Health Act had been laid since the task force began operations on Saturday.
“If (a traffic stop) were required based on public health risk, we could coordinate that through the task force by involving other authorities, such as the RCMP,” the statement continued.
It is NNSL Media’s understanding that the Municipal Enforcement Division, which is responsible for the City of Yellowknife’s traffic enforcement, is not – and has not – been involved in pulling over traffic for the territorial government’s public health-related enforcement efforts.
It is also the NNSL Media’s understanding that even if the GNWT’s enforcement task force were involved with other organizations like the RCMP to pull over traffic, it would have no obligation to inform the city regarding charges under the Public Health Act or those based on directives from Kandola’s office.
– with reporting from Simon Whitehouse