Large gatherings of people at Kitsilano Beach on Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Walter Wells/Twitter)

Large gatherings of people at Kitsilano Beach on Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Walter Wells/Twitter)

Vancouver police to reassess enforcement of COVID rules at outdoor parties: mayor

No tickets were given out for a large outdoor party at Kitsilano Beach

The Vancouver mayor says the city’s police force will be taking another look at how they respond to outdoor parties.

In a series of tweets, Mayor Kennedy Stewart said that now is “not the time to be gathering in large groups.”

His comments come after reports and videos surfaced of dance parties at English Bay and Kitsilano beaches on Saturday, despite high COVID-19 cases and pleading from B.C. health officials to avoid gatherings of any size. Gatherings of up to 10 people are permitted outdoors, but masks, distancing and keeping to the same group have been recommended.

“I’ve been in contact with Chief Palmer and after a busy weekend the VPD will be reassessing their approach to outdoor parties,” Steward said.

“This weekend while partiers broke health orders, (police) swiftly responded to a gang related shooting in Coal Harbour.”

In an email to Black Press Media, Const. Tania Visintin said that Vancouver police had a “high volume of priority calls on Saturday night, including a murder downtown, and all resources were tied up.”

READ MORE: One man dead after shooting in Downtown Vancouver

She said that by the time police responded to the party, the crowd had shrunk and no tickets were handed out.

Visintin said that police balance COVID related calls with those about crime in the city and cannot always instantly show up to enforce pandemic rules.

While authorities are watching at parks and beaches, Visintin said “it is also personal responsibility of individuals to remain extra vigilant when it comes to social distancing and remaining within their core bubble.”

Vancouver is not the only city figuring out how to prevent large outdoor gatherings as the weather gets warmer. White Rock’s council is scheduled to discuss COVID-19 prevention measures on the waterfront Monday, after a sunny weekend saw crowds flock to its beaches.

PHOTOS: Council to consider ‘prevention measures’ as crowds flock to White Rock beach

B.C. reported 1,005 new cases and six deaths Friday, capping off a week where cases were largely in the quadruple cases and the COVID positivity rate reached record highs. Health officials and the premier are expected to make an announcement about COVID measures and statistics on Monday afternoon.

VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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