Vancouver first responders are gearing up for a busy Halloween night amid the added complications of COVID-19.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a new order this week banning social gatherings of more than six visitors in private homes.
“That means no Halloween parties this weekend,” Henry said at her Thursday briefing.
That prompted a plea from Vancouver police for residents not to call 911 to report gatherings that violate the order — urging them to call 311 instead.
“We will, however, respond to noise complaints as we typically do,” said Const. Tania Visintin in an email. “If a noise complaint reveals a large party is taking place, our officers will investigate/respond accordingly.”
Surrey RCMP Cpl. Elenore Sturko said the detachment’s COVID-19 compliance team will be on standby and responding to complaints as well.
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“(The majority of people are) doing this on their own, without having to rely on police to make people do stuff, but there are those who do disregard the public health orders,” she said.
“For those people, that’s what our team is set up for, to make sure that we’re keeping an eye on what’s happening and taking action where we need to for the safety of the community.”
Sturko said patrol officers will also be on the street dealing with the usual spike in calls for service associated with Halloween and ensuring public safety for kids out trick-or-treating.
Vancouver firefighters also raised concern Saturday around Halloween fireworks.
On Thursday, an 88-year-old woman was burned in her own home after a firework shot through her window while she was sleeping.
Assistant chief Brian Bertuzzi told Global News he was expecting a busy night and that crews had concerns about the combination of fireworks and recent dry weather.
Families that are participating in trick-or-treating are asked to keep their groups small and to respect homes that are not participating in festivities this year.
“If you need need to wait at the door, it looks congested or crowded while you are trick or treating, wait at the end of the driveway for your turn or just skip that house all together,” said Ambulance Paramedics of B.C. spokesperson Jessica Chilton.
Children are also advised to incorporate a mask into their costume, while people handing out candy are being asked to maintain physical distancing.
Chilton also suggested that people distribute candy at the end of a driveway, and potentially use tongs or another tool to avoid touching the treats.