VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A video circulating online depicts a large crowd of people partying on Granville Street and is now prompting criticism from Twitter users and some Vancouver city councillors.
Throughout the week, British Columbians have heard Dr. Bonnie Henry plead with people to avoid large gatherings and parties during this pandemic. But it looks like a number of people partying on Granville Street Saturday morning aren’t getting that message.
The video originally posted to Instagram, shows people crowding together, jumping up and down to music, and while no one appears to be wearing a mask.
Found the Instagram story timestamp along with similar videos. This was Downtown #Vancouver on Granville street last night. @CityNewsVAN @NEWS1130 @BT_Vancouver https://t.co/m5WFyJfE6D pic.twitter.com/12dnMZfZcz
— Ashley Grace Burr (@AshleyBurr_) August 15, 2020
Young people are not ‘invincible’
Vancouver Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung tells NEWS 1130 her heart sank when she saw the video.
“We’re going in the wrong direction and to see that really gives you pause and take a step back because that means that we’re going to see more people getting infected, more people getting sick and we’re going to see potentially business shutdowns,” she says.
Kirby-Yung believes young people feel they’re not at risk and she notes it’s not the disease some people may think it is.
“It’s natural to think that you’re invincible and you don’t see the consequences of that because you haven’t had that life experience yet, but we’re not invincible,” she says.
“I think some of the stories of young people that have had it, that have lingering symptoms afterwards. You know, recovering is not as easy as you think. It does have repercussions. It’s really important to get out there.”
And she says, young people not heeding health warnings are hurting themselves; she says the longer people don’t listen to health officials’ advice, the more impacts it will have on younger people wanting to get their lives started.
“We’re naturally social creatures. People want to get out there but these are people that trying to build careers and get their first jobs. And it just means that if the economy has that impact because we have to shut down, lock down again, close businesses, the jobs are not going to be there, people are not gonna be able to sort of get started in their first homes. All of those things that you want to do when you’re young.”
Kirby-Yung says having conversations about the virus with young people is important “because nobody can afford this. We just can’t.”
She adds, because bars and nightclubs is where we’re seeing many of the outbreaks, it’s realistic that the city will have to take some additional steps to see whether or not they can continue to operate.
“Bars, particularly in nightclubs, there’s a lot of hard working local owners that are behind those businesses but it is where we are seeing more of the outbreak so it’s quite realistic we’re going to have to take some additional steps there and look at whether or not they can continue to operate.”
Be an influencer
Another Vancouver Councillor, Melissa De Genova, tells NEWS 1130 she has also found the video concerning and says young people need to understand the risk they are putting themselves and others in.
“I feel that everyone’s going to have to act like they are an influencer because this can’t be socially acceptable any longer.”
While accidents may happen, De Genova adds, it should be clear that it’s not socially acceptable to convene in large groups, especially without a mask.
“But clearly from seeing that video that wasn’t an accident, it seemed that people were there intentionally.”
De Genova says she will be speaking to the rest of the council about how to better communicate enforcement around physical distancing.
“Under our bylaws, there is finable offence of — I believe it starts with $1,000 — that offence goes up quite high to $50,000 for people who aren’t participating in physical distancing and are causing risk to others so I’m wondering what sort of enforcement has been done about this as well,” she says. And also what are we doing as a city to make sure that people wear their masks?”
She’s also suggesting businesses decline serving individuals even in a takeout capacity if they are not wearing a mask.
Meantime, Vancouver Police Deputy Chief Howard Chow says, a portion of the street was closed off as normal to give more room for pedestrians, and to cut down on violence.
However, at midnight, “some would-be DJs set up speakers which drew a crowd, was quickly shut down.”
We closed off 900 block of Granville St. to cars like always on Fri and Sat nights. Gives more room for peds & cuts down on violence, fights, and intox people falling into traffic. At midnight some would-be DJs set up speakers which drew a crowd, was quickly shut down. #COVID https://t.co/0jOeLbYWIQ
— Howard Chow (@DeputyChow) August 15, 2020
A statement from the VPD confirms officers stopped the DJs from playing the music and shortly after, people stopped gathering.
“There is limited capacity inside of the restaurants and bars which does make for additional people on the streets,” the release reads. “VPD will continue to educate people on the importance of physical distancing.”
So far, the VPD has not issued tickets to people who are not complying with social distancing, isolating or quarantining.
“The Province along with the PHO [Public Health Office] has taken the lead on this and officers specifically assigned to enforcement with the Province will be enforcing any social distancing laws,” the statement adds.
“As of now, #Vancouver Police have not been issuing tickets for non-compliance with social distancing/isolating/quarantining.” – @VancouverPD Sgt. Aaron Roed. @CityNewsVAN @NEWS1130 @BT_Vancouver pic.twitter.com/NaLCHhNTgu
— Ashley Grace Burr (@AshleyBurr_) August 15, 2020
On Friday, B.C. recorded 84 new cases of the virus, as Dr. Bonnie Henry cautions the curve is going in the wrong direction.
This week Dr. Bonnie Henry said the 20-to-29-year-old age group has gone up the most with distinct increases around the end of June and end of July.