Citizens offer perspectives on Granville Street partiers during COVID
By CJ Sommerfeld, Staff Writer
“I suspect this sort of behaviour will continue through the winter, regardless of stay-home and social distancing orders. People are fed up.”
Hundreds of partygoers swarmed the Granville Street strip on Halloween evening. These actions went against suggestions from Dr. Bonnie Henry, who urged Canadians to avoid large crowds on this night. While media outposts following this night labeled these Halloween-celebrators as irresponsible and selfish, the public instead defends fellow-Vancouverites by saying that perspectives regarding virus transmission are changing.
In an online chat with the Other Press, Bijan—a long-time Vancouver resident—offers a reason for the seemingly incautious partiers. He tells us that what occurred on October 31 “is indicative of the changing opinion around the disease.” He explains by saying that people are intensely weighing the prospect of getting sick against the negative side effects associated with loneliness and depression. He concludes that gathering to party during a pandemic can be labelled irresponsible when regarding it solely from a COVID-transmission stance, however, the argument for celebrating is sound when considered through a mental health lens.
Mary Menthol (whose name was changed at their request), a teacher at Douglas College, has a similar stance. However, she worries for those within these partier’s bubbles. When speaking with the Other Press, she agrees that “people are feeling cooped up and frustrated, and this is the result.” And while she offers justification for the Granville Street Halloween celebrators, she expresses her concern about the consequences which these actions may cause. “[The partiers] will now be bringing whatever exposure they had in that crowd back into their bubbles.”
When comparing the restrictions that have taken place in the Vancouver area with those in other parts of the world, Lower Mainlanders have been granted more freedoms than others. It was only last week that certain Ontario hotspots reopened gyms and theatres; however, the social distancing guidelines within these places has increased to three meters. Ireland’s wet bars only opened on September 21, after being closed since March. The Spanish province of Catalonia was in complete lockdown twice. They recently introduced new restrictions that prohibit travel in or out of the province; cafés, bars, and restaurants are closed for dine-in, and all cultural activities are completely suspended. And in Mexico, face masks (cubre bocas) were mandated in March to be worn in all public and semi-public places—including one’s own car. This mandate is still enforced in twenty-four of the country’s states. Currently, Vancouverites are not experiencing any of these restrictions, however new lockdown orders have recently been put into place asking residents to stay at home and isolated for the next two weeks until Nov 23. On October 21, the European Union removed Canadians from their list of approved travellers allowed to enter due to the rise in cases within our country.
“I suspect this sort of behaviour will continue through the winter, regardless of stay-home and social distancing orders […] people are fed up.” Bijan concludes. COVID fatigue has set in; people are tired of being locked-up, tired of being cautious, and tired of being scared.