EPS 'aware of' but not ticketing car, motorcycle enthusiasts holding large gatherings
Approximately 200 people held a car meet on Whyte Avenue Wednesday, May 13, 2020 despite the province's ban on large gatherings of 15 people or more. . (Sean Amato/CTV News Edmonton)
EDMONTON -- Police will not be cracking down on vehicle enthusiasts gathering in apparent violation of COVID-19 restrictions, instead planning to monitor and educate participants.
On Wednesday night, CTV News Edmonton photographed approximately 200 people holding a car meet in parking lots near Whyte Avenue, despite provincial restrictions which have banned gatherings of more than 15 people.
About 150 cars and motorcycles were parked in the lots of United Cycle and Tim Hortons on Gateway Boulevard south of Whyte around 9 p.m.
“EPS is aware of this group, and continues to monitor and does drive by this location for education purposes,” Scott Pattison, a spokesperson for Edmonton Police Service, wrote in a email.
As of Thursday, 121 Albertans had died of coronavirus and 6,457 people were confirmed to have contracted it.
Despite some easing of restrictions Thursday, the province’s ban on indoor or outdoor gatherings of 15 or more people remained in affect due to fear of coronavirus spread.
“A gathering is any event or assembly that brings people together in the same space at the same time,” the provinces website reads.
“Alberta continues to restrict gatherings during stage 1 of relaunch to protect Albertans’ health and limit the spread of COVID-19.”
The potential fines for breaking those rules are also listed on Alberta.ca.
“If you violate this public health order and hold or attend a gathering with more than 15 people, you may be subject to a $1,000 fine."
Courts could also issue fines up to $500,000 for repeated or “more serious” offences.
When asked about Wednesdays gathering, Pattison did not say tickets would be issued in the future, but suggested CTV News Edmonton reach out to the property owner.
“It is our understanding that they are in the process of prohibiting non-customer traffic or gatherings, and have reached out to that car club,” Pattison wrote.
When reached on Thursday, a spokesperson for United Cycle said he does not want the gatherings in his company’s lot.
“It’s a group that we’ve chased for a couple of years, trying to get them out of our parking lot,” Kelly Hodgson said.
Hodgson saw photos of Wednesday's gathering on Twitter and reviewed the stores video surveillance.
“That’s clearly not two metres apart, people standing around together. I would encourage them to not only find another location, but probably not do it during this time,” Hodgson said, adding he understands everyone’s desire to gather and have fun.
On Sunday, officers at the Alberta legislature detained three people for allegedly violating public health orders, and at least one of those people was ticketed.
Last month, peace officers announced they issued 58 warnings for physical distancing violations but no fines.