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Video, photos show massive weekend crowd at popular Vancouver beach

What appears to be a large crowd - practicing little to no social distancing - gathered at Vancouver's Wreck Beach Saturday
A gathering the evening of Saturday, August 15 at Wreck Beach in Vancouver. Photo: @megamouthmedia/Twitter

A video shared to Twitter over the weekend shows what appears to be a large crowd - with little to no social distancing - gathered at Vancouver's popular Wreck Beach.

"Guess no one cares about the Covid or social distancing at Wreck Beach!!" writes Twitter user @punkrokk65 to caption their footage shared on August 15.

Other images have surfaced of the same location, showing a very large group of people standing what appears to be very close to each other on the shore.

"Add to the ever growing list of recent large social gatherings in #BC, this beach party early Sat eve at #wreckbeach witnessed by @dapeha," writes Barb Snelgrove on Twitter.

"The only piece of clothing they should have been wearing was a mask," she quips, in a nod to Wreck Beach's "clothing optional" status.

"It’s very disturbing and outright selfish to see such gatherings when we are in the middle of a pandemic!" adds David Hayes, who is the @dapeha mentioned by Snelgrove.

Large gatherings, even in outdoor spaces, have been a sense of immense public tension in B.C. of late.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has ordered that no more than 50 people may gather at mass events, regardless of whether they are held indoors or out.

However, in recent weeks, a number of more or less formally organized events have taken place across the province, including in Vancouver, like July's drum circle gathering on Third Beach.

Young people, including those in the 20-29 age group, are credited for the significant spike in test-positive COVID-19 cases in B.C.

With active COVID-19 cases at their highest in three months, last week Premier John Horgan hinted at a carrot and stick approach to British Columbians — and especially younger people — to heed health and safety guidelines.

“If people continue to work around, or try and disregard the rules that the rest of British Columbians are following, then we will, of course, take action,” he said on August 13

To aid in Horgan's quest to get the word out to young people, the premier called on Vancouver-born actors Ryan Reynolds and Seth Rogen, asking the celebs to share messages about the dangers of gathering in groups for parties and the like. Both complied, with Reynolds joking "I hope that young people in B.C. don't kill my mom," and Rogen emphasizing alternative options: "The COVID is still out there! It’s more fun to hang out alone and smoke weed and watch movies and TV shows anyway! Do that instead!"

B.C.'s last COVID numbers update was given on Friday, August 14 via a written release. Health officials reported Friday that 2,026 people are under “active public health monitoring."

A string of public exposure alerts were issued recently for private parties, bars, restaurants, night clubs and stores across the Lower Mainland. Health officials also continue to flag flights through Vancouver for exposure to the virus.

Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in their joint statement Friday that several bars, restaurants and nightclubs in the Vancouver Coastal Health region have been closed following transmission events, “some by public health order and others voluntarily.”

More than 70 new cases have been reported in B.C. over each of the past three days. On Friday, B.C.’s new cases totalled 84, and total active cases numbered 629.  

A live press conference is scheduled for 3 p.m. today, wherein Dix and deputy provincial health officer Dr. Reka Gustafson (standing in for the vacationing Henry) are expected to not only to provide an update for the three testing periods since Friday, but also to field questions from reporters about weekend gatherings like the one at Wreck Beach in Vancouver.

With files from Elana Shepert, Kirsten Clarke, and Stefan Labbé