Will the FOCO street party still attract thousands during the COVID-19 pandemic?
LONDON, ONT. -- With less than one month until the FOCO street party, there’s uncertainty how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact the number of partygoers this September.
In 2019, cool temperatures and rain didn’t stop 25,000 young adults from crowding Broughdale Avenue.
Robert Grand is a friend of the last homeowner living on the cul-de-sac of student rentals.
He’s worried even the pandemic won’t be enough to stop this year’s party.
“Both here in Canada, and in the United States, you still see an awful lot of youth just basically carrying on like [COVID-19] never existed.”
Nicolas Mateus lived in one of the rented houses during last year’s unsanctioned party.
“I think parties are going to be going on, I just don’t think it will be the big street party. It’s going to be house to house,” predicts Mateus.
He thinks each individual house will host a party beneath the social gathering limits.
Policing the event cost London taxpayers over $300,000 in 2019.
London police tell CTV News in a statement they are hopeful but ready, “While we are hoping that students are responsible and follow all health precautions with respect to the current pandemic, if there is a large unsanctioned gathering, our officers will be prepared to respond.”
“We really have to emphasize, as Western (University) has been doing, why it’s important to follow these public health guidelines,” says Deputy Mayor Jesse Helmer.
Helmer adds City Hall has been developing a plan in the event of another FOCO party - but he hopes students will instead follow the guidelines of public health officials by not gathering.
“A lot of those things are in pretty direct conflict with getting a bunch of people together in a house for a party,” says Helmer. “So I think students have to follow those guidelines, take them very seriously, because we have to keep this (COVID-19) thing contained.”
As for Mateus, the third-year student at Western is still considering if he’ll attend on September 26.
“I don’t know, if a friend comes at me with enough energy, I might be here. I will try to be as responsible as possible.”
Western University has already announced this year’s official homecoming events will be held online.
In 2021 the university will return homecoming weekend to its traditional late September date.