Nova Scotia is doubling the fine for those who violate COVID gathering limits from $1,000 to $2,000.
It's a move the province hopes will deter Nova Scotians from violating the gathering limit.
“Rest assured, people will be charged,” Premier Iain Rankin said. “And now we’re increasing that fine because obviously some chose not to respect the order and some actually flaunted it. That’s not the Nova Scotian thing to do.
“At the same time, I’m pleased with seeing people turn out and getting tested. So, I still have optimism but it’s a disappointing weekend for us.”
As of April 23, the province reduced the gathering limit to five — both indoors and outdoors — in the Halifax Regional Municipality, along with Hubbards, Milford, Lantz, Elmsdale, Enfield, South Uniacke, Ecum Secum and Trafalgar.
In today's briefing, Rankin said other parts of Nova Scotia will have reduced gathering limits at 10 people — both indoors and outdoors — including the family household.
The increase of the fine comes from several violations and calls to police over the weekend about gathering limit violations.
On the morning of April 24, 22 people were fined for the same violation at a party on Jubilee Road.
That night, Halifax Regional Police received 17 calls from Haligonians who were concerned about potential gathering limit violations.
“The virus is spreading and we have to find a way to contain it," Rankin said in Sunday's COVID-19 briefing."Social gatherings are not helpful in the middle of a lockdown.”
At Sunday's briefing, both Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the violations that occurred over the weekend.
Rankin said he was "infuriated" to hear about a party in the middle of a lockdown.
"Why? Why would you put yourself at risk and worse, someone else?" he said. "It may be fun in the moment to gather with friends who have no concern for COVID. But how would you feel if you put a loved one in danger who cannot fight this serious disease?"
Strang also said the current conditions in the province regarding COVID-19 are making him "very anxious."
“I know these examples make people angry and afraid,” he said. “But I would ask that we all focus less on what others are doing and more on making sure that us, as individuals and families, are following COVID restrictions.”