Vancouver police say the large crowds of people who gathered on Granville Street Halloween night, few with masks or practising social distancing, is “concerning and selfish.”
“During a global pandemic, you would not expect to see a crowd this large congregating on the streets,” Const. Tania Visintin with the Vancouver police said Monday. “It’s concerning and quite frankly, it’s selfish. These people don’t care about anything but themselves.”
Videos posted to social media show hundreds of people outside, dancing, hugging and hanging on the sides of cars going down the street.
Police were called when the growing crowd of people would not comply with public health orders to practise social distancing from those outside their social bubbles amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our primary responsibility that night was protection of people and property and that’s exactly what we did,” Visintin said. “Despite the hostility we were met with, the anti-police sentiment we were met with, it became a public safety issue and public safety was paramount so yes, our officers responded exceptionally to the large group that was there.”
Police said they stopped a Range Rover for a traffic violation and were swarmed by the people inside.
They arrested one man for jumping on the hood of a police vehicle and a rear passenger side window on another police car was also smashed.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix called the crowds gathering to celebrate Halloween “disgraceful.”
No new public health orders were announced Monday.
“We facing COVID-19 for a long time to come,” Dix said. “For months and months and months and months and months.”
“We need to follow public health guidelines and public health advice. There is a role for enforcement but we also need people, all of us, to follow these orders.”
Many were questioning Monday why police were not handing out tickets for those breaking the COVID-19 rules from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry but Visintin said it was not appropriate to do that Saturday night.
“In the case of Halloween, issuing tickets and dispersing the crowd wasn’t appropriate.”
However, officials are now in talks about how to handle celebration nights going forward, especially with the holiday season and new year right around the corner.
“Moving forward, people really need to understand the effects of gathering in a large crowd like this,” Visintin said. “It’s a health issue and people need to make that conscious decision not to leave their homes and congregate in large groups in public for the health of all of us.”
In B.C. people can be fined $200 for violating Henry’s orders.
Vancouver councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung expressed her concern Sunday about the crowds, saying if the cases keep rising, especially from weekend events like this one, Vancouver and B.C. could take a more punitive approach to public health orders about gathering outside.
“We saw an increase in cases after Thanksgiving with people coming together and we just can’t afford another lockdown for residents, for businesses, for people’s mental health,” she said. “So this just extends it, it makes it longer for everybody. A lot of people are doing their best to follow the guidelines so if we can all pull together, what we do and what everybody does impacts everybody else.”
She said if the numbers keep rising, the city would have to look at “other measures” to try and keep case numbers low.View link »