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Illegal nightclub shut down and ticketed by New West police

About 150 unmasked people attended the Front Street bash
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New Westminster Police closed down an illegal nightclub on Front Street attended by about 150 people.

New Westminster police shut down an illegal nightclub attended by about 150 unmasked people and fined the organizer under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act.

A New Westminster Police Department press release said officers were patrolling the downtown neighbourhood on Jan. 30 when they noticed a party in the 400 block of Front Street. The police department’s crime reduction unit stayed in the area and spoke to an individual associated to the party.

“Inside the building, officers saw people dancing on a dance floor, open liquor, and approximately 150 guests who were not wearing masks or social distancing,” said the press release. “The NWPD shut down the event without issue and had the crowd leave the area.”

According to the NWPD, officers issued $575 in fines to the event’s organizer under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act.

“This appears to have been an illegal nightclub,” said NWPD spokesperson Sgt. Sanjay Kumar. “We want everyone to know that public health orders are still in place and still being enforced. These orders are in place to protect public health.”

Blair Fryer, the city’s manager of communications and economic development, said the police reported the incident to the city’s bylaws and business licensing divisions. He said the city’s business licence ambassador contacted the business owner who is in charge of the space.

“We understand that the space had been leased out for that evening for something that wasn’t expected to be this kind of gathering,” he said. “Our business license ambassador explained that these kinds of illegal gatherings, especially during a pandemic, cannot occur. The business owner apologized profusely and assured us it won’t happen again.”

Fryer said he’s unaware of any nightclubs that are currently operating in New Westminster.

“Certainly it was unusual to have an illegal nightclub operating last week, which is why it was shut down so quickly,” he told the Record. “We understand from the owner that it was a group that was using the space and had put on a party without letting the owners know, of course, and the owners were unaware until all of this occurred and police interjected and the city reached out.”

Fryer said city officials were satisfied by the business owner’s explanation.

“We have followed up and we are satisfied by the explanation of this business owner. We will be keeping an eye on things,” he said. “Should an infraction occur again, we will certainly be addressing it immediately.”

B.C.’s current public health order states that places not offering full-meal service must close, including bars, nightclubs and lounges that don’t serve meals. No dancing is allowed, and masks are required when people are not seated.

Current public health orders related to indoor events, such as concerts, sporting events, movies, presentations and ticketed events, are restricted to 50% capacity. Attendees are required to be fully vaccinated, provide proof of vaccination, to wear a mask indoors, and to stay seated (dancing is prohibited.)

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus
Email tmcmanus@newwestrecord.ca