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Crowded Third Beach drum circle leads to call for physical distancing enforcement

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Jul 22, 2020 at 5:18 pm PDT

Summary

A large crowd singing, dancing at Third Beach has one Vancouver Park Board commissioner calling for enforcement

About 100 people gathered at the beach for a drum circle Tuesday

Dr. Bonnie Henry says while outside gatherings are less risky, they aren't without risk

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Reports of a crowded Vancouver beach this week has one park board commissioner calling for more physical distancing enforcement at parks and beaches.

Social media posts show a large group of people gathered at Third Beach for a drum circle Tuesday. Ryan Schaap, a West End resident, says he was shocked to see more than 100 people singing and dancing close together, many without masks.


“This was just elbow to elbow singing and yelling on each other. It was kind of offensive,” he adds.

“It was a wall of people, a sea of humanity. It was just unbelievable how little regard they had,” Schaap says.

On Monday, provincial health officials warned of an “explosive” COVID-19 growth if British Columbians aren’t more careful.


Bumping up patrols

Vancouver Park Board commissioner John Irwin says he will be pushing for Vancouver Park staff to patrol the area to remind people of the health guidelines.

“Maybe in combination with rangers and then, maybe not have the police there right away, but have them nearby as backup,” he tells NEWS 1130.

Irwin expressed concerns about reverting back into an earlier stage B.C.’s reopening plan if public health orders are ignored.

“We’re still in Phase 3, and we might conceivably have to go back into Phase 2,” he says.

“It does concern me that people will start spreading the virus and we will end up being back in a situation we don’t want to be in.”

Irwin encourages anyone who sees large groups of people not adhering to health guidelines, to report it to the city’s 311 line.

Not part of weekly drum circle

While the beach was a regular site for drum circles, they were apparently called off in March.

Brahm Olszynko is the founder of the Brahms Tam, the weekly drum circle at Third Beach. He says he postponed drum circles in March and hopes this new crowd of beachgoers will listen to health guidelines.

“We are officially postponed. This is not the direction we should be going,” Olszynko says, adding this is a new group of partiers.

“What I saw yesterday is unacceptable. It’s unsustainable. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” he says. “That shouldn’t be happening.”

He notes his drum circle drew in crowds of hundreds, even thousands of people, which is why he hasn’t been holding them for the time being.

Gatherings are still limited to 50 people in B.C.

Outdoor gatherings still risky

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has cautioned the coronavirus can spread by people singing and chanting in groups. 

During Wednesday’s provincial COVID-19 update, Henry explained while being outside is less risky, it isn’t without risk.

“We are appealing to people, again, to remember that and keep your group small, stay a distance from other small groups and then you can enjoy the beaches,” she says.

“We don’t want a lot of people to crowd together for periods of time and having close conversation.”

Henry notes bylaw officers are able to enforce regulations around public health regulations as are health authorities in some circumstances.

Henry didn’t go as far to call out organizers of large events or suggest stricter enforcement.

“We have aways taken the compliance and education approach to this, and we should do so again. That’s my approach to this and that’s what we will continue to do.”