Dozens at Nest gathering seen not physical distancing or wearing masks

An early Halloween gathering in the Nest Thursday night appears to have broken physical distancing guidelines and the AMS’s mandatory mask policy.

Around 17 people can be seen standing outside Blue Chip Cafe on the ground floor of the Nest in a photo posted to Twitter. Some were clad in costumes but none whose faces are visible can be seen wearing masks. Most can be seen within two metres of one another, seeming to break BC Centre for Disease Control physical distancing guidelines.

Third-year Allard student Astitwa Thapa said he was studying in the Nest on Thursday night when around 50 people in total entered the Nest in several groups between 7 to 8 p.m. He said they interrupted his studying and were “disruptive” by singing and shouting.

“These people were all celebrating. No masks, no nothing. It’s totally bizarre because UBC needs to crack down on social parties because it makes people unsafe,” he said.

AMS President Cole Evans couldn’t confirm details about the gathering, but he said the group’s behaviour in the photo was “just plain idiotic.”

Health organizations worldwide have recommended wearing masks and face coverings, and the practice is widely believed to be effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19 when combined with hand washing and physical distancing.

Thapa said that the AMS needs to address non-compliance and asked why the AMS couldn’t provide free masks with its budget.

Executives mentioned at Council meetings mentioned that the society was in talks with UBC to provide free masks in the Nest. Evans said this would happen in the coming weeks.

If students continue to flout COVID-19 guidelines, Evans added the AMS would consider measures such as limiting Nest or food outlet hours.

“We’re doing what we can on our end given our limited capacity to keep people safe, but I also would encourage people to reflect on what their responsibilities are to help us out with that,” he said.

“And of course I would also encourage people not to act like idiots like we see in that photo.”