Newfoundland warns of $50,000 fines after pictures of crowded bars emerge online

Newfoundland warns of $50,000 fines after pictures of crowded bars emerge online

Photos shared widely on social media are alleged to show crowds gathered outside two popular Newfoundland bars, while another shows people packed together on a dance floor. 

The images shared across social media on Monday show dozens of people outside and on the balconies of a pair of popular St. John's establishments, The Rob Roy and Konfusion. In response, the Newfoundland Department of Health issued a statement of concern over the scenes.

"There is a responsibility on both owners and patrons who choose to go to nightclub establishments to follow public health guidelines," the notice read, adding that the potential fines for the non-compliant establishments could range from $5,000 to $50,000. 

Bars and lounges are currently allowed to open in the province, albeit with reduced capacity and requirements for physical distancing. 

Asked about his thoughts on what occurred, Premier Dwight Ball said, "some of the images that I saw over the weekend (were) not something that illustrates to me that people were making responsible decisions." Public health measures were put in place for everyone's safety, not "so that you can go and have a party somewhere," the premier added. 

NDP legislator Jim Dunn, who represents the area where the bars are located, told The Province, "it's horrified a lot of people." A cluster of COVID-19 cases caused by a bar or nightclub would be a challenge for those trying to trace cases Dinn added, saying that clarity was needed for how visitors to the province could be monitored. 

Canadian gold medal winning curler Brad Gushue, who lives in Newfoundland, was not impressed with the partying while restrictions limited what could be done at his gym. 

Restrictions on businesses and social activities have been gradually lifted over the past month, while the strict border closure was loosened last week, allowing visitors from other Atlantic provinces to travel to Newfoundland. 

Currently, Newfoundland and Labrador have no known cases of COVID-19.