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Illegal parties in Surrey linked to COVID-19 exposure, shut down by RCMP

Last Updated Aug 7, 2020 at 9:51 pm PDT

(Courtesy Surrey RCMP)

A 40-year-old man has been arrested and charged with uttering threats, break-and-enter after a string of illegal parties

Police are warning about the dangers of these gatherings amid the pandemic, one has been linked to COVID-19 exposure

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — A man has been arrested for hosting a string of illegal, after-hours parties in Surrey — one of which prompted a COVID-19 warning from Fraser Health.

Mounties began investigating earlier this month after receiving a number of tips from concerned residents in Whalley.

“After-hours clubs and parties had been springing up at a commercial property in Whalley. The public had called in because they were concerned that there was illegal drinking and partying and sort of a  nightclub atmosphere going on in some of these commercial locations. They were also concerned about the number of people that they were seeing associated to these after-hours clubs,” says Cpl. Elenore Sturko.

While some parties were held at a location that was leased, others were allegedly held at locations that were broken into. A 40-year-old man has been arrested and charged with uttering threats, and break-and-enter.

“This same individual is believed to be related to a hookah lounge that was being operated after-hours and it was actually the subject of a health announcement from Fraser Health this week about possible COVID-19 exposures,” Sturko says. “You’re really putting yourself at risk by attending these events.”

RELATED: B.C. health minister shares stern message as more COVID-19 cases linked to parties

The investigation was led by the COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team which was formed when the pandemic struck.

“Right now while there is a risk of transmitting COVID-19, we have to really crack down on these type of things,” Sturko says.

“The pandemic did not invent these type of things, we’ve seen them before. It’s a party atmosphere, they’re attended by a lot of young people in particular and we have always done enforcement.”

Sturko also urges anyone planning on attending a party organized for Friday night to stay away.

“There’s a great likelihood that the police will probably be there turning you away. Maybe this is an evening for doing something else.”

She hopes telling people about this investigation and arrest will prompt conversations in the community about the risk posed by these unsanctioned parties.

“Have that earnest conversation, that there are reasons why you should really be staying away from this type of activity right now. It’s not safe. We want to keep you healthy so that you can maybe live on to party next year or when we’re finally through this pandemic.”