VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A regular drum circle Tuesday is possibly drawing a much larger crowd than normal.
Metro Vancouver and UBC RCMP have learned a crowd might be gathering at Wreck Beach and they’re asking people to be at least two metres apart.
.@VancouverPD confirm they are "aware" of #DrumCircle planned at #WreckBeach tonight and beach patrol officers will "respond accordingly to calls that arise".
This, after self-described "event" promoter posts image on social media suggesting no masks be worn. #COVID19 @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/EgyG8k3akp
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) August 18, 2020
Corporal Chris Manseau says it’s unethical for a self-described event promoter –who also planned an out of control house party last summer in Anmore– to be encouraging this.
“We’ve seen parties that have happened where this is exactly how the transmission of this disease spreads rapidly. Why would you be actively telling people to not take any precautionx? It’s irresponsible.”
He’s responding to posts on Instagram and Facebook suggesting anyone who shows up shouldn’t bother wearing a mask.
“Why would you want to take that risk upon yourself to tell people to actively not be as responsible as they can? You’re not only affecting yourself, but you’re affecting everyone else.”
Speaking on behalf of UBC RCMP, Manseau says closing the beach is possible if too many people show up.
“The university detachment always has the option of possibly closing the beach if they feel that there’s going to be any risk to the public. Now, in the past, there haven’t been significant problems, but there hasn’t been an organized event like this one. If it appears that people are actively not social distancing there and they are not taking their precautions and that there’s going to be too many people on the beach where that wouldn’t be a possibility, the beach may be closed down.”
Metro Vancouver Commissioner Jerry Dobrovolny says most people visiting local parks behave appropriately and he wants to keep it that way.
“Society has a lot at stake that we keep following the rules of public health and we will enforce our bylaws. People are really appreciating getting out into nature, getting fresh air that’s good for their physical health and their mental health. There’s a very, very small number of people that are behaving inappropriately and being really silly and they need to stop.”
He has this message for anyone trying to downplay how dangerous COVID-19 is.
“Find something better to do with your time. We know this is a global pandemic. We’ve got a rock star in Dr. Bonnie Henry and all of our public health officials. The rules are simple. This is not a big imposition on people. Maintaining two metre separation, washing your hands regularly and wearing a mask when appropriate.”
Dobrovolny tells NEWS 1130 attendance at local parks since the pandemic started has been strong and possibly record-breaking.
“People have been really, really good. Park staff are interacting with people. We’re keeping track. It’s about 12-14-thousand interactions a week right now. We’re reminding people about the physical distancing and you know, a vast majority of the people are following the rules. There’s always going to be somebody that thinks the rules don’t apply to them.”
Wreck Beach normally closes at sunset.
Vancouver Police also say they are aware of the drum circle and their beach patrol will respond accordingly if public safety orders are violated.
Health Minister’s response
Meanwhile, Health Minister Adrian Dix says it’s shameful someone seems to be trying to use this tragedy to make himself more famous.
“There are always people who wish to promote themselves at the expense of others, but these are lousy people who are behaving in a worthless way for the worst reasons, their own self-promotion, and people shouldn’t be fooled and they shouldn’t be part of it.”
He also has strong words for COVID-19 deniers suggesting it’s safe to party in large numbers –without wearing a mask.
“When people deliberately set out to put other people at risk, just don’t be part of their world. Don’t be sucked into their world. There are so many better things to do this summer and every other time than to be part of someone else’s self-promoting, abject lousiness. There are going to be people out there who see this as an opportunity to profit –either for nasty ideas or just they want to be famous for being opposed and not caring about other peoples’ health or they have some other self-promoting reason. We all know what’s at stake for the ones we love.”
Dix says stronger enforcement measures he promised on Monday will be announced Thursday or Friday, but we should expect some kind of crackdown on private parties even if numbers are lower than the current 50-person limit.
He says house parties with only 20 to 25 people have been largely to blame for hundreds of recent transmissions.