UVic students fined for violating public health orders

Saanich police fined 25 people for violating public health orders and liquor offences at the University of Victoria on the weekend.

Officers went to the university with campus security officers about 10 p.m. Friday and found a group of approximately 100 young adults gathering near the fountain outside the main library.

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“The officers observed a complete lack of any physical distancing as well as many openly consuming liquor,” said Saanich police spokesman Const. Markus Anastasiades.

Police ticketed 11 students for not maintaining physical distancing. Fourteen people, including some minors, were ticketed under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act. The fines for both offences are $230. Almost all of those ticketed are registered at the university.

On Saturday night, officers went back to the university but found only small groups of six to eight people. These groups were following the physical distancing protocols “and the majority were polite, respectful and even thanked police for being there,” Anastasiades said.

“It appears that enforcement measures had the desired effect, setting the tone for Saturday’s overall compliance at the campus. We hope others share this message with their peers because at the end of the day it’s doing everything we can to keep everyone safe in our community and beyond,” he said.

Under B.C.’s Emergency Program Act, people who organize large, unsafe gatherings or ignore provincial health orders related to mass gatherings and events can be issued a fine or violation ticket of either $200 or $2,000. Health orders prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people.

Joel Lynn, executive director of student services, said the university has been very clear with all its students about the need to follow the advice and guidance of the public health officer regarding COVID-19.

Students who were ticketed for not social distancing will be referred to the Office of Student Life for a review under university policy which may affect student’s status or residence status, Lynn said.

“Sanctions can range from lower level consequences, such as written warning or written apology, up to and including significant consequences such as suspension or expulsion,” he said.

This is the second weekend UVic has had problems with large parties during the pandemic. The university began an investigation after Saanich police broke up two gatherings of more than 100 people the weekend after school started.

Breaking pandemic rules has resulted in punishment for students elsewhere. In Nova Scotia, a student at the Université Sainte-Anne was expelled after failing to self-isolate as required. The student, who travelled from outside Atlantic Canada, later tested positive for the virus.

In Boston, 11 first-year students at Northeastern University were dismissed after they were discovered together in a hotel room in violation of university and public health protocols.

Police in Ohio reported attending a house party at Miami University, thrown by a student who had just tested positive for the virus. More than 1,000 students at the university have tested positive for COVID-19 since classes started this fall.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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