London, Ont., police, bylaw investigating after 150 attend Halloween party in student neighbourhood

Images shared in a Facebook group on Saturday. via "Must Knows" for courses at UWO/Facebook

London police, bylaw enforcement, and Western University are in communication after roughly 150 people packed tightly together to party at a home in a student housing neighbourhood over the Halloween weekend.

Police were called to Beaufort Street, a small side street off of where Wharncliffe Road North becomes Western Road, at roughly 1:15 a.m. Saturday.

Read more: Coronavirus: 18-year-old fined after hosting large house party in northern Ontario

On scene, police say there were roughly 150 people in attendance at a large gathering, which flouts provincial regulations limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people.

According to the province, exceeding that limit could result in fines starting at $10,000 for the organizer and $750 per guest.

The gathering could also result in the spread of COVID-19, as Middlesex-London Health Unit medical officer of health Dr. Chris Mackie noted on Monday.

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“You don’t have to be a public health physician to know what a terrible idea this is — to have a large party with people that aren’t wearing masks in close proximity,” he said.

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“This is exactly the sort of thing that causes a whole new wave of cases to ripple through our communities. And we’ve seen that with the Western outbreak in September. We’ve seen that to a smaller degree with other smaller parties. When you got back to a party of this size, you’re right back at that extremely high risk level.”

The investigation into the party on Beaufort is in its early stages, but police say they are working with “our enforcement partners from the City of London and Middlesex-London Health Unit.”

“When more information is available, we will provide an update,” police said.

Read more: How superspreader events have contributed to B.C.’s recent COVID-19 surge

The city’s head of bylaw enforcement, Orest Katolyk, says the city is “actively working with London Police Service and Western University.”

“Officers are in the process of collecting information and reviewing evidence,” Katolyk said.

A statement from Western University’s associate vice president of student experience, Jennie Massey, says “it is troubling to see this kind of behaviour.”

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“Should we receive names of any Western students involved, we will review all cases under the Code of Student Conduct, follow up and apply sanctions as appropriate,” she said.

“We know the majority of our students are doing their part to take care of themselves, each other and our community. But we are at the height of the second wave of this pandemic and we need everyone to commit to this shared responsibility and remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19.”

Deputy mayor Jesse Helmer said that “for the most part” those in the community, including students, did “the right thing” over Halloween.

“And the few folks who are doing the wrong thing, it’s really regrettable and it’s very disappointing to be at this point in the pandemic and still see that kind of behaviour happening.”

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