Nova Scotia cracks down on university party-goers after weekend bash with no masks
HALIFAX -- With strict new gathering limits in effect in the Halifax area, police have been granted new powers to issue tickets, which could prove expensive not just for the host, but for the party-goers themselves.
Like others on Edward Street, Louis Brill has gotten used to the occasional college party.
He, and others, though, were surprised and unhappy Friday night when they realized a large gathering was taking place a few doors away.
"Several of the neighbours called police and of course police responded to that, and we found 62 students at the party unmasked, and at a time of COVID, that's more than a concern," Brill said.
Police issued a $1,000 ticket after breaking up the party, but some neighbours say the university should be doing more.
For its part, Dalhousie University says it works closely with city officials to make sure students are aware of the latest public health orders. The school also says it considers them adults who are expected to abide by the law.
"Dalhousie recognizes its students as independent adults," university spokesperson Janet Bryson wrote in an email. "Students are also responsible for following all civil and criminal laws in Nova Scotia. Dalhousie fully supports HRP's work to deter unsafe and disrespectful student behaviour."
Police say they continue to enforce existing health orders, but wish they didn't have to.
"Our perspective has always been we start with conversations and education, and we look to enforcement if that's not effective," said Halifax Regional Police spokesperson Const. John MacLeod.
The trick is to do that "without looking heavy-handed," says Halifax Regional Coun. Waye Mason, who represents the area.
"It's hard for the police, especially at this time to bring maximum penalties," Mason said.
But, convinced more needs to be done, he reached out to the province, seeking fines for party-goers, as well as for those who host.
"So, today, I wrote the premier and Dr. Strang and asked them to put really clear direction that people who attend the party that breaks the rules should also be ticketed," Mason said.
A few hours later, he got his wish.
"Going forward, there will be stronger enforcement for illegal gatherings, including a $1,000 fine for every person who walks though the door," Premier Stephen McNeil said.
As with the other restrictions, the new fines take effect first thing Thursday morning.