An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE HARASSMENT WORD is popular among businesses when they break COVID rules and authorities crack down on them.
There’s certainly been no harassment and no crackdown when it comes to B.C. gyms that are supposed to be closed but refuse to do so. (Gym owners can relax — I simply want to use them today as an example of a problem at the health authority level.)
Gyms were supposed to shut down Dec. 23 but some remain open, including a couple in Kamloops.
It took two weeks for $2,300 fines to be handed out. That’s two free weeks of remaining open and continuing to charge clients membership fees. The fine amounts to the cost of doing business.
Notably, the Kamloops gyms weren’t cited with orders to close despite the initial decree from Dr. Bonnie Henry. And, no fines have been handed out to the customers who choose in ignore the order along with the gyms.
A West Kelowna gym was also fined but in that case was also issued a closure order. The owner has been on media saying he’ll stay open anyway.
So, the gyms keep on operating, for now. If the order comes off Jan. 18 as scheduled, the entire exercise will have been pretty much a sham.
According to the Province, enforcement is done on a gradual, progressive basis. First, education, then fines, then closures.
One wonders what type of education is needed when a business flatly refuses to follow an order. Belatedly dishing out fines without shutting down the business is a kid-glove approach if ever there was one.
If closing down is going to be nothing more than a suggestion, then Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix should say so instead of making what amount to near-empty threats.
A clear message is being sent to all businesses — not just gyms — by this lax enforcement. They now know they can give the brushoff to any directives from Henry and Dix.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.