COVID-19: Vancouver police arrest makeshift nightclub operator and issue over $17,000 in total fines to partygoers

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      Vancouver police have cracked down on a party host who had been repeatedly operating a makeshift nightclub in Downtown Vancouver—as well as all partygoers in attendance.

      This is the second time that police have visited this location after parties were reportedly held there.

      The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) announced today (January 31) that police began an investigation after an individual reported that a large party was being held in a 1,100-square-foot, three-level penthouse apartment at a building located near Richards and Georgia streets on January 23.

      When officers arrived at the location, the party host, who was operating as a door person, had refused to open the door and “was defiant with police”, according to the VPD. Officers issued him two violation tickets—one for hosting an unlawful event and a second one for not wearing a face covering—for a total of $2,500 in fines. 

      Police had received four previous complaints this month about parties held at the location.

      Early this morning, officers returned to the location with a search warrant after two more large parties were reported to have been held this weekend.

      Upon entering, police found 78 people inside, none were wearing masks, and there were menus, tables, point-of-sale terminals, and cash tills, according to VPD spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison.

      Officers issued $230 violation tickets to each of the 77 partygoers for attending a non-compliant event under the Emergency Program Act. Over $17,000 in total fines were issued.

      Furthermore, police arrested the 42-year-old party host under the Public Health Act, and took him to jail.

      The Emergency Program Act prohibits all indoor social gatherings at residences (people who live alone are permitted to host two people with whom they regularly socialize).

      “If you are caught hosting or attending a party during the pandemic, and continue to break the rules, you could face stiff fines or wind up in jail,” Addison stated.

      In a separate case, Vancouver police had arrested a 24-year-old party host on December 25 after obtaining a warrant for his arrest for holding a party on December 18. He had received several warnings and two previous fines of $2,300 each for holding parties at his apartment since September. Although he spent Christmas in jail, he was released on bail, and he will be arrested if he doesn’t comply with conditions.

      At previous B.C. COVID-19 briefings, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has explained that the province is focussing on an educational approach for health measures, with enforcement and restrictions used as a last resort. She and other health officials have also pointed out that the majority of British Columbians are following health guidelines and practices, and that examples of defiance are exceptions.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.