Would you ride in a party bus during the COVID-19 pandemic?
While that may sound like a recipe for disaster to some people, a group of party-goers enjoyed a ride through Downtown Vancouver streets in a massive party bus on Saturday night.
When the group parked outside of the Living Room Bar at the Hotel Belmont, however, the staff made sure the pack didn't come in.
In a Tweet, Don Falconer, bar manager of the Living Room Bar, says 20 to 25 people climbed out of the mammoth vehicle in front of the bar. He quips, "Take your rolling penthouse party somewhere else."
Party bus pulls up in front of the bar. 20-25ppl climb off and want to come inside. Shocked and angry when we say no. Take your rolling penthouse party elsewhere.— Don Falconer (@TheFalconer) August 9, 2020
Falconer adds that the passengers were, "Shocked and angry," when staff denied them entry.
In a phone call, Falconer tells Vancouver Is Awesome that the party bus rolled up to the bar around 11 p.m. on Saturday night. In his estimation, the vehicle was approximately 20 to 30 feet long.
"Jeff Simpson, our assistant general manager, was the first person to go out and talk to the group," explains Falconer. "We knew as soon as that bus rolled up it was a no-go."
Falconer adds that all of the Living Room Bar staff are empowered to make decisions that keep employees and customers safe during the pandemic. He says that one of the people on the bus asked to come in to use the bathroom, but that staff informed him he wasn't welcome in the bar after being on the bus.
"It is a safety issue, and we are considering the community at large," notes Falconer.
Falconer says that this is the only party bus that he's seen pull up at the bar, but there are many companies offering the service right now, despite the pandemic. In fact, there are many companies offering vehicles for groups of 20 or more across Metro Vancouver.
Some of the companies that V.I.A. reached out to said that they have 35 to 30 person party buses, but that they are reducing the number of passengers to ensure physical distancing. However, in some cases, as many as 25 people can still be on a bus. Further, many companies do not require passengers to wear masks.
It is the law in British Columbia that no alcohol can be consumed while travelling in any vehicle. Passengers need to know that limousine or party bus operators must refuse to board passengers carrying alcohol and they must terminate trips if they find alcohol being consumed in a vehicle. Operators who do not comply with liquor laws run the risk of losing their licenses.
With this in mind, many of the people who ride in party buses are intoxicated, as they may consume alcohol before the ride or at locations throughout the night, and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry notes that people are less likely to physically distance in instances where alcohol is involved.
City Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung tweeted about the incident outside of the Hotel Belmont, stating that they did the right thing by refusing entry to the large group.
"The sector, our economy and our residents can’t afford a second COVID-19 wave. We all need to do our part to follow health guidelines and keep people safe. Or we’ll never get to recovery," she wrote.
Kudos @BelmontBar for refusing entry to a large group getting off a party bus in @downtownvan. The sector, our economy and our residents can’t afford a second Covid wave. We all need to do our part to follow health guidelines and keep people safe. Or we’ll never get to recovery. pic.twitter.com/oZbmP5LZ1C— Sarah Kirby-Yung 楊瑞蘭 (@sarahkirby_yung) August 10, 2020
In today's briefing, Henry stated that “if you are invited to a party or social event, and something doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t right for you or for your friends. It only takes one person with COVID-19 to cause a surge in new cases and for hundreds of people to be in self-isolation.
“You don’t have to go along to get along. Rather, invite your family and friends to instead join you to have safe social interactions this summer."