COVID-19: Party host charged for repeated violations of health orders

© Jason Payne A Vancouver man has been charged for repeated violations of public health orders.

A 24-year-old Vancouver man has been charged for repeated violations of the health order that bans parties and social gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sgt. Steve Addison, a spokesman for the Vancouver police, says officers issued multiple warnings and tickets to the man over several weeks, and asked him to stop hosting parties during the pandemic.

“He made clear that he has no plans to stop, so our officers obtained an arrest warrant and he spent Christmas in jail,” said Addison.

The Vancouver resident was arrested Dec. 25 and released from jail on Boxing Day. He is under bail conditions, including that he must answer the door if police knock, must comply with all provincial health orders, and can only have two other people in his residence.

The VPD say they have received 12 complaints about noise and parties at the man’s downtown apartment since September, and issued two $2,300 tickets earlier this month.

After a neighbour complained about another loud party on Dec. 18, VPD officers worked with Crown counsel to obtain a warrant, said Addison.

He said police did everything they could to educate the man about the pandemic and the order before they moved to enforcement. However, he said the man made it clear he was not going to comply.

As a result, the man has been charged under Section 99 of the Public Health Act.

At a news conference Wednesday, Addison said he did not know how many people were at the parties but said there were “far more people” than allowed under the public health order.

“2020 has been a hard year. We know that. We understand that. I understand that people are longing for social contact and want things to back to the way they were,” he said.

“Unfortunately we are not there yet. We are asking people to abide by the public health order. We are asking people to stay home or stay close to home. If you go out be with people from your immediate household. That’s the way to keep everybody safe.”

The COVID-19 Related Measures Act bans social gatherings of any size inside residences, but allows people who live alone to host two people with whom they regularly socialize.

The VPD has issued 21 tickets for unlawful social gatherings since the public health order took effect.

Meantime, the Vancouver police are preparing for New Year’s Eve, and say they will be adding extra officers throughout the city, including the busy Gastown and Granville Street areas.

Officers will be on the lookout for impaired drivers, and CounterAttack road blocks will be in effect.

Addison says VPD officers will investigate reports of house parties and other unlawful social gatherings in households, and could issue $2,300 tickets to party hosts.