Everyone knows pandemic parties are a no-go and for those who choose to party-on regardless in blissful ignorance, there needs to be serious consequences.
London has seen a surge in illegal house parties — some with over 100 guests — over the past month. A Halloween gathering on Beaufort Street saw two men fined and a party last weekend on Mill Street saw one 18-year-old and two 19-year-olds charged for hosting.
The fines for hosting an indoor gathering of more than 10 people start at $10,000 and go up to $100,000 in Ontario. Attending one of these gatherings can net partiers a $750 fine.
While they may seem draconian, large fines are a deterrent for large parties. We are in the middle of a pandemic and these fines are one of the only ways the city can get through to residents who aren’t listening to their “stay home, stay safe” messaging.
In the words of London’s mayor, “you can’t fix stupid, but you can fine it,” and hopefully deter them from repeating the action.
The steep fines also play an important role beyond discouraging repeat offences — deterring people from hosting and attending parties in the first place. A $10,000 fine, not to mention a $100,000 fine, makes a dent regardless of your salary and even those who aren’t concerned about transmitting the coronavirus take notice of that.
But if these fines are to work, they have to be used consistently and levied more liberally. Out of 150 attendees at the Beaufort Street Halloween gathering, only two partiers were charged. While it might not be realistic to fine every attendee at a gathering of more than 100, in order for the fines to have the greatest impact they need to be applied in their intended spirit.
Of course fines don’t mean there won’t be any more parties. There will still be those who choose to dance the night away regardless of the pandemic — but that is all the more reason to have systems to mitigate this behaviour.
And right now, mitigation is what we need to get ahead of rising cases.
This article is part of our annual Housing Issue, read the full issue online.