Lesson learned? Richmond Row a ghost-town after COVID-19 warnings
LONDON, ONT. -- The Middlesex-London Health Unit and Mayor Ed Holder gave words of warning to students after an alarming number flooded the downtown core two weekends ago.
The students’ downtown activities were linked to spreading COVID-19.
During a virtual press conference on Sept. 17, Mayor Ed Holder offered strong words to those not following COVID-19 protocols.
“If you are apart of the problem, I can’t put it any more plainly. If this continues, you are going to kill someone,…it’s a matter of when not if somebody dies,” says Holder.
The words of warning worked.
This past weekend, the busiest bars were bare and the streets were empty in comparison.
Tevin Heath, a graduate student at Western says he has high hopes that the bar scene will not be overloaded in the future.
“Sometimes (downtown) is poppin’. But now it's not as much and I think a lot of the students are realizing it's a health and safety thing,” says Heath.
The quiet weekend comes after a TikTok video submitted to CTV News, exposed large groups of party-goers lining up for bars without masks and ignoring physical distancing rules.
Western student Nicole Uliana calls the COVID-19 spike a huge wakeup call for students.
“I think a lot of students got shook up by the news form the previous week of all the cases…its kind of like shameful now if you’re seen on social media partying and posting because people are calling you out,” says Uliana.
While some Western students are hopeful that the safety message will resonate, others argue that the message may not stick.
“Maybe for a weekend of two they’ll (students) stay in. They’ll take it slow, they’ll take it chill. But eventually they’ll get over it and they’ll wanna go out and party… and cases will go back up,” says Western Student Nicole Pickle.
Chief of municipal law enforcement officers, Orest Katolyk calls the weekend post-warnings ‘quiet.’
“This weekend was not busy at all compared to previous weekends… on both days over the weekend we were near campus neighbourhoods by Western and Fanshawe and it was very very quiet.”
Katolyk says that officers monitored Richmond Row over the weekend but notes that clients and employees were nothing but cooperative.