The global COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions on public gatherings isn’t stopping some central Alberta residents from hosting massive bush parties, according to RCMP.
And one this past weekend wasn’t your average backyard bonfire.
A party near the Red Deer River in central Alberta drew an estimated 500 people, according to local RCMP, making Ontario’s 200-person house party this week seem under control in comparison.
Innisfail and Sundre RCMP found alcohol bottles, cans, toilet paper and human feces in the area, about 30 km west of Bowden, as well as social distancing signs that appear to have been stolen from nearby.
WATCH: Alberta premier concerned about spike in COVID-19 cases. Story continues below.
Police responded to 11 calls for service in a 12-hour stretch that began around 7 p.m. on July 25, mostly from local residents complaining about property damage, loud partying noise and fireworks being set off throughout the evening. There were also reports of stolen property, driving offences and the discovery of a deer carcass, which is currently being investigated by the Ministry of Fisheries and Wildlife. One local reported at least 40 vehicles still in the area the next morning.
“I’m not a health care professional, however, responding and observing that as a concerned person that lives in the community, I find that disturbing,” said RCMP Sgt. Lori Elier in a statement.
“The guidelines are put out by our health professionals for a reason and clearly, in this case, they were not adhered to.”
An absolute rager like this is disruptive during the best of times, but during the COVID-19 pandemic it’s particularly dangerous. Alberta is currently seeing a resurgence of the novel coronavirus. As of Wednesday, there are nearly 1,400 active cases in the province, and over half of all active cases are in people under the age of 40.
The guidelines are put out by our health professionals for a reason and clearly, in this case, they were not adhered to.Sgt. Lori Elier
Beyond the implications of stealing property, setting off fireworks and whatever happened to the deer, a 500-person bush party certainly breaks public health rules. The province’s current outdoor gathering size limit is 200 people, and that’s assuming social distancing and other protocols such as mask-wearing are maintained.
So if you’re going to crack open a cold one with the boys, please remember to do it safely and maybe not with 500 of your closest friends in the bush — for everyone’s sake.
With files from the Canadian Press.