Ahead of Western University's homecoming weekend, London Mayor Ed Holder has asked students and partiers to stay away from Broughdale Avenue.
The mayor said Thursday that he believes any large gatherings held in the area would likely become unsafe.
"I am absolutely and terribly concerned that another student is going to get hurt or worse," Holder said. "I think Western, in just a few short weeks, has been through enough already."
While typical precautionary measures are being put in place in and around the infamous university party street, Holder insisted holding or attending a large gathering is not a good idea.
"We're in a time when the threat of the fourth wave of COVID-19 is not only real but present. And when we have seen escalating incidents of violence, I would say that out of concern for everyone's safety and well-being, I'm saying to students, avoid Broughdale," Holder said.
London police have already stated extra law enforcement will be deployed to the area over the weekend, paramedics will also be on standby if needed. Additionally, the Middlesex London Health Unit issued two new Section 22 Class Orders for the city that emphasizes the number of people allowed at a social gathering.
Under Step 3 of Ontario's reopening plan, 25 people are allowed to gather indoors and 100 people outdoors during organized events aside from gatherings at facilities. The second part of the order states that anyone at restaurants, bars and nightclubs must keep their face coverings on at all times unless eating or drinking in a designated area. Those in violation of the guidelines could face fines that start at $750 for an individual and $1,000 for a business.
Last year, the university responded positively to the city's request asking students to refrain from gathering to slow the spread of COVID-19. Both the health unit and the mayor are optimistic that students will be respectful again this year, despite looser restrictions in place due to vaccines.
Aside from the risk of potentially spreading COVID-19, Mayor Holder said he's hopeful students will remain vigilant while attending any gatherings this weekend and added the city will be prepared for whatever may come up.
Western University made news headlines for a few unfortunate reasons since classes commenced earlier this month including, the murder of a first-year student and a series of disturbing sexual assault allegations that reportedly took place at Medway-Sydenham Hall, an on-campus residence for students. Following the incidents, over 9,000 students participated in an organized walk-out demanding change over the university's handling of violence on campus.
The weather forecast for Saturday is similar to what the area has seen for much of the week, mild with a high of 17 degrees and rainy. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie said the undesirable weather could help with preventing large parties.