Video has emerged of a large street party on Vancouver’s Granville strip on Friday.
The video was posted to Instagram and shows a large crowd of people dancing to amplified music in close proximity on the Granville mall early Saturday morning.
It comes as provincial health authorities warn of the danger of large social events as the province faces a spike in new COVID-19 cases driven largely by young adults.
“What in the world are those kids thinking, is what went through my mind. Unbelievably frustrating and disappointing,” said Jeff Guignard, executive director of B.C.’s Alliance of Beverage Licencees.
“Our industry has done some incredible work to abide by extremely stringent public health protocols, and when bars reached capacity, people decided to have a street party during a global pandemic? This is serious and that needs to be stringently enforced.”
Vancouver police Deputy Chief Howard Chow took to Twitter Saturday to address the video.
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Chow said the 900-block of Granville Street was closed to vehicles as it normally is on weekend evenings.
“At midnight, some would-be DJs set up speakers, which drew a crowd, was quickly shut down.”
That does not appear to match the video, which bears a time stamp reading 2:07 a.m.
“(We are) still getting groups throughout evening congregating with music, buskers, etc. Doing our best to intervene and shut music down when groups form,” added Chow.
“Unfortunately, limited seats inside means more people outside.”
Vancouver police spokesperson Sgt. Aaron Roed said police have not been issuing tickets for non-compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
“The province along with the PHO has taken the lead on this and officers specifically assigned to enforcement with the province will be enforcing any social distancing laws,” said Roed.
“Police will continue to focus on public safety, prevention of crimes, and upholding the law. We will also continue to spread awareness and educate the community on the importance of social distancing.”
How B.C. is handling its night scene during COVID-10 has sparked debate, particularly following several recent exposure events at bars and clubs.
Health Minister Adrian Dix warned this week of a crackdown on people breaking the rules at private parties at public halls.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, however, says there are no plans in the works to shut down bars or clubs.
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That’s an approach SFU professor and public health expert Scott Lear agrees with.
“Bars are semi regulated spots — like the owners and staff will make sure that a lot of the public health measures are being adhered to,” he said.
“If you start to close bars, what you’re doing is you’re going to take these patrons into maybe house parties and community events, and that’s where you’re actually seeing most of the new cases come from.”
As of Friday, B.C. had more than 2,000 people in isolation due to recent coronavirus exposures.
The number of active cases in the province grew by nearly 250 people this week, after three consecutive days in which new cases topped 75.