British Columbia

Surrey RCMP surprised with physical distancing compliance

From a distance, it looks like the seniors gathered near the track at Bear Creek Park in Surrey are violating physical distancing rules but when the COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team, or CCET, gets a little closer, it’s clear that everyone is behaving themselves.

The city’s COVID-19 enforcement and education program has a 98 percent compliance rate

A member of Surrey's CCET speaks with a group of seniors about physical distancing rules at Bear Creek Park in Surrey, B.C. (Chris Corday/CBC)

From a distance, it looks like the seniors gathered near the track at Bear Creek Park in Surrey are violating physical distancing rules but when the COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team, or CCET, gets a little closer, it's clear that everyone is behaving themselves.

A husband and wife laugh as they explain to Cpl. Bob Keay that they're allowed to sit close together because they share a bed.

"How about we say that if you live in the same household, it's understandable?" Keay said, laughing. "The fact that you're taking precautions is awesome."

The CCET, which consists of Surrey RCMP and city bylaw officers, has conducted more than 14,000 inspections like this one since March 26, when it was formed in response to the pandemic.

RCMP Cpl. Elenore Sturko says they've only had about 300 incidents, which works out to a compliance rate of around 98 percent.

"We have not had to resort to handing out any fines, which I think is incredible," she said.

"People who haven't been compliant, once they find out what steps they need to take, people really have made an effort to comply with all of our public health orders."

Volunteers at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey, B.C., continue to serve free meals, but people now pick them up in the parking lot instead of coming inside the building. (Chris Corday/CBC)

Making the rounds

The team's role is to respond to complaints, work with businesses to ensure they're playing by the rules and to monitor areas that are closed, such as playgrounds.

Feay says he often gets calls from residents concerned about people playing sports but when he visits areas like tennis courts and soccer fields, most people aren't doing anything wrong.

"With tennis, they're obviously social distancing because they're so far away," he said. "The concern would be handling the ball, but if they wash their hands, then they're compliant."

After stopping by the park, the CCET travels to a gurdwara near 152 Street and 68 Avenue, where physical distancing measures have been in place for nearly two months.

Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib president Narinder Singh Walia says they're still serving about 800 free meals a day, but instead of offering food inside the temple, people pick it up in the parking lot.

Volunteers in the kitchen work two metres apart from one another and daily prayers are broadcast online and television instead of in person.

"We hope very soon that everything will be normal," Singh said. "We are doing our best and we ask the people, please stay home and be safe."

Keay says the overwhelming majority of businesses and community groups have proper safety measures in place and several, such as the gurdwara, are going above and beyond what is required.

"It surprises me how many people are compliant," he said."It's awesome and it's exactly what we need the public to do."

Watch the COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team patrol Bear Creek Park in Surrey:

Covid-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team patrols Bear Creek Park in Surrey 0:38

CBC Vancouver's Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. If you have a story for us, email impact@cbc.ca.

 

About the Author

Jesse Johnston worked in private radio from 2004 to 2014 in Vancouver, Red Deer and Calgary. He spent the next five years based out of Surrey (his hometown) as CBC's South of the Fraser reporter until he joined the Impact Team in 2019. Jesse is a two-time recipient of the RTDNA Dave Rogers Award for Best Short Radio Feature. He loves radio, running and dogs. He also loves the Detroit Lions, but if you follow him on Twitter, you already knew that. @Jesse_Johnston

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