A large dance party to amplified music on Vancouver’s Kits Beach Friday night has renewed the debate over B.C.’s COVID-19 restrictions, as locals flock outdoors in the warmer weather.
Beryl Pye was out for a bike ride when she spotted the “crazy party,” which she said numbered in the “hundreds.”
Video captured by Pye and other social media users appears to show some of the dancers wearing masks and many keeping their distance from other revelers.
However, the gathering appears to fall afoul of the province’s cap of 10 people from a cohort of close friends or family for any outdoor gatherings.
“There was a guy that had like a speaker that was like going through the crowd and kind of instigating this dance situation … walking up and down the beach with this kind of crown on and a cape looked like what you would see at a festival when people put on costumes,” Pye said.
“The bathroom lineups were crazy. I’ve never seen it like that at Kids Beach ever in my life, just on a regular Friday night.”
On Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed her order permitting outdoor gatherings, which she said was important to maintain social connections.
Henry said any such gathering should be kept to 10 people or fewer, stressing that no environment is currently risk-free.
“I do think it’s important for us to go outdoors. And I think all of us should be going outdoors every day and making sure that that’s part of how we keep ourselves together,” she said.
“But it should be the same small group of people that you can meet outdoors, keeping your distance and if you’re closer together, wear a mask.”
On Thursday, Henry presented modeling showing that if British Columbians continue with their current level of social interactions, the province could see up to 3,000 new cases per day as more contagious COVID variants spread.
The province is currently reporting an average of over 1,000 new cases per day and the number of people in hospital and intensive care repeatedly set new records this week.
Pye said she’s worried that if people seek to bend the rules on gatherings, the province could be forced to implement stricter restrictions like the controversial lockdown implemented this week by Ontario.
“I don’t want more closures, I don’t want parks to be closed, I want to be able to go outside and safely — you know, we live in a beautiful city, I want to be able to do that,” she said.
“It’s just frustrating. I don’t want the numbers to end up at 3,000 cases a day. And when I look at a scene like that, that’s where we’re heading.”
Asked about the party and how police were handling gatherings amid the warming weather, a spokesperson for Vancouver police said no one called in a complaint, and police did not attend the beach.
The Vancouver Park Board said enforcing COVID-19 restrictions was a provincial responsibility.
In a statement, a spokesperson said rangers would be out over the weekend providing education about COVID-19 restrictions, but that “it is also a personal responsibility of individuals to remain extra vigilant when it comes to social distancing and remaining within their core bubble.”
If rangers encounter a group of people blatantly disregarding public health orders they can call police, the spokesperson said.
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