VANCOUVER -- Hundreds of people appeared to break provincial regulations when they partied on Vancouver beaches every night of the past mid-April weekend, but Vancouver police said it was too busy to issue fines in most cases.

Some of the biggest gatherings were at English Bay, where officers spotted people “flagrantly drinking alcohol in public, disobeying social gathering guidelines, not wearing masks.”

But in a lengthy news conference on Monday, the Vancouver Police Department argued it was an exceptionally busy weekend, particularly as officers responded to a shooting outside a popular downtown restaurant. The department said it did deploy police from other parts of the city to break-up a party Saturday evening.

“I’m not aware of any tickets that were issued at that big beach party on Saturday night,” said Sgt. Steve Addison. “As I explained earlier, our resources were stretched extremely thin.”

Addison pointed out officers issued many COVID-19 infraction tickets over the past year, and likely did more this past weekend too, but he was unaware if any were handed-out to beach partiers.

Videos and pictures on social media revealed parties were held on beaches throughout Vancouver.

Outdoor gatherings are safer than those held indoors, but still come with many risks.

“When you start bringing-in alcohol, food, drinking, personal contact, hand-contact, you’re infected everybody. It’s a big, big problem,” cautioned chemical physicist Bruce Calder.

Outdoor gatherings are especially dicey at night, because we lose the benefits of sunlight, which studies in the Journal of Infectious Diseases have shown can weaken the virus that causes COVID-19.

“At night all the safety of your sunlight goes away, at this point in time, COVID lasts on surfaces for hours, if not tens of hours,” warned Calder. “Anything you touch, anything you bring to your face, anything you drink, anything you eat, can infect you.”