Social media images of large parties in Vancouver’s downtown on Halloween night, Oct. 31, 2020.

Social media images of large parties in Vancouver’s downtown on Halloween night, Oct. 31, 2020.

Halloween crowds gather in Downtown Vancouver despite B.C. top doctor’s plea to avoid parties

Police said large, alcohol fuelled crowds made dispersing people not a practical solution

Hundreds of people gathered on the streets of Vancouver’s downtown on Halloween night despite calls from B.C.’s top doctor to avoid parties.

Videos posted to social media show large groups of people, some wearing masks but many not, and no social distancing, on the Granville strip in the city’s downtown. People appear to be dancing on cars, in the streets and generally not following COVID-19 rules or recommendations. The Granville strip is home to many bars and restaurants that would have shut down at 11 p.m. unless they had a full food menu, having stopped serving alcohol at 10 p.m. per provincial COVID rules.

The partying carried on in the streets despite provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s warnings last week. Her warning came during a week where daily cases have exceed 200. Total cases are now at 14,381, with 2,390 active as of Friday (Oct. 30). The death toll from the pandemic has reached 263 in B.C.

“This Halloween weekend, we need to celebrate in new ways. We need to keep our groups small – in our homes and on the streets,” Henry said during a Thursday (Oct. 29) press conference were she announced 234 new cases and one death, an elderly woman who had caught the virus at child’s birthday party.

Vancouver police Const. Jason Doucette told Black Press Media Sunday (Nov. 1) morning that while police did not yet have a full count of tickets given out, they had extra officers deployed in the area.

“We are disappointed that party goers did not listen to the advice of our Public Health Officer and chose to gather in large crowds along the Granville Mall,” Doucette said.

The majority of crowds gathered were peaceful, and no injuries were reported, but people who “acted out” were removed from the area.

“Our response has to reasonable and proportionate to what were faced with at the time,” he said. “Due to a number of factors on Halloween night, physically attempting to disperse the alcohol fuelled crowd or issue tickets wasn’t appropriate.”

Doucette said there were a “number of arrests” for offences such as causing a disturbance.

READ MORE: B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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