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Queen’s associate professor speaks out about students not adhering to COVID-19 protocols

Click to play video 'Queen’s professor concerned about partying during Covid' Queen’s professor concerned about partying during Covid
WATCH Partying during the era of coronavirus has concerned a Queen's University professor.

An associate professor at Queen’s University in Kingston is calling out some of the risky behaviour that he says he witnessed near the campus on the weekend.

In a letter to the principal and other Queen’s officials, which was posted on social media, Jeff Masuda urges immediate action to curb student partying, fearing it could lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“Myself and many of my neighbours are experiencing a sort of a state of profound disappointment,” Masuda told Global News on Wednesday.

Click to play video 'Crowd control concerns as B.C. COVID-19 cases rise' Crowd control concerns as B.C. COVID-19 cases rise
Crowd control concerns as B.C. COVID-19 cases rise

In his letter, Masuda says he witnessed several “pods” of students drinking in the University District early Sunday morning. He also claims partying students have treated the University district like a giant outdoor bar.

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Masuda goes on to say that now is the time for Queen’s to take urgent and radical measures, whatever that may be.

“Decisive action doing something fundamentally different and reaching out to the community and seeing us as an ally, as a partner in this, right?” Masuda said.

“Not as a part of a problem to be managed.”

Read more: Coronavirus pandemic forces Queen’s University to change up first year students’ move-in

Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson says Masuda’s concerns are absolutely valid.

“We’ve known for months that this was going to be a challenge once we got back into September,” Paterson said.

“Of course we’re happy to welcome back so many students back to Kingston. But at the same time we know in the midst of an pandemic that there are real concerns around physical distancing and reducing the spread of transmission of COVID.

“The last thing we want in the end of September is a big outbreak of COVID in our community.”

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COVID-19: Doctors say wearing masks in crowded outdoor spaces helps prevent spread of coronavirus

Paterson says the city has tools in place to enforce physical distancing in parks and in other areas of the municipality. He says the vast majority of people are doing their best to abide by those restrictions, but for the ones who aren’t, tickets and fines have and will be issued.

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Over the weekend, Kingston police did hand out out some tickets — four to be exact. Two for noisy parties and two nuisance party bylaw infractions.

Queen’s University issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon addressing professor Masuda’s concerns, saying, in part, “Queen’s takes the safety of the community very seriously,” adding that they “want to assure the community that they will continue to impress upon students the importance of adhering to public health guidelines during these challenging times.