Large gatherings at Vancouver beaches prompt mayor to contact city's police chief about enforcement
VANCOUVER -- With beautiful weather comes beach days in Vancouver and Kitsilano Beach was a hotspot this weekend, with people taking soaking up the sun on the first hot days of the year.
However, not all beachgoers followed the provincial health officer's orders around gatherings.
Video circulating online of what appeared to be a Friday night dance party at Kits Beach caused quite the stir on social media. Dozens of people appear to be dancing close together, with few of them wearing masks.
Current provincial restrictions limit outdoor gatherings to 10 people, and physical distancing is required. CTV News visited the beach on Saturday and while some people were wearing masks and keeping their distance, many more were not. It was a similar situation at English Bay.
As for enforcement, it didn't appear like there was enough to break up the crowds. For the most part, it seemed as though the beach crowds carried on without intervention from the Vancouver Police Department.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart took to Twitter on Sunday to address the crowds and enforcement.
“I know it’s frustrating not being able to see your friends, but now is not the time to be gathering in large groups,” he tweeted. “I’ve been in contact with Chief Adam Palmer and after a busy weekend the VPD will be reassessing their approach to outdoor parties.”
While health experts have said on numerous occasions that gathering outdoors is safer than doing so indoors, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, has also said COVID-19 variants are more easily transmissible, so there is still risk outside.
Dr. Maria Chung, an associate professor at with UBC’s Department of Medicine, is concerned the West Coast will soon find itself in a dire situation similar to what’s happening in eastern Canada.
“We’re about a month behind Ontario. We have a significant amount of variants that are more easily spread,” she said.
“I’m concerned about pressure on hospitals. We’re not anywhere near capacity but I can see it going that way if things don’t change.”