Anti-mask protesters march through downtown Victoria, hold rally

Anti-mask protesters march through downtown Victoria, hold rally
Dozens of maskless protesters wound through the downtown core, waving signs with messages like

A downtown protest in opposition to the province’s COVID-19 health orders took place Saturday afternoon, with Victoria police in attendance.

At least 100 maskless protesters wound through the downtown core waving signs and chanting. Attendees were not abiding by the six-metre distancing rule set out by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. One protester was seen waving a plush toy sheep on a pole with a mask covering its face.

“We really need to take education to the next level, and it’s unfortunate, but we have to question our authorities,” said protester Dean Propp. “The governments, in my opinion, are corrupt to the core both provincially and federally.”

Among those in the protest were people from HugsOverMasks, a group that routinely holds anti-mask protests.

To date, the province has seen 79,262 cases of COVID-19 and 1,348 deaths from the disease. There are currently 4,665 active cases in B.C.

READ MORE: Mandatory mask order does not violate your constitutional rights, says Victoria lawyer

In a tweet, police said they had been asked about the protest — a 2:30 p.m. march from Centennial Square to the B.C. Legislature. The protest ended up going from Centennial Square, over to Fort Street and back to the square.

Police said while they support B.C.’s current health orders, they do not have the ability to enforce face-covering orders right now. The province’s Public Health Act was recently amended on Feb. 10 to include a statement on outdoor assemblies such as protests.

“I am not prohibiting outdoor assemblies for the purpose of communicating a position on a matter of public interest or controversy, subject to my expectation that persons organizing or attending such an assembly will take the steps and put in place the measures recommended in the guidelines posted on my website in order to limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19,” it states.

Officers said they would observe the protest from a distance, though they might not take action against any immediately, they can issue fines to anyone who breaks a health order at a later date. Officers later confirmed there were between 100 to 200 protesters at the event, but no incidents were recorded.

Anti-mask protesters seen in Victoria on Feb. 27, 2021. (CHEK News)

Anti-mask protesters calling for an end to the province’s COVID-19 restrictions march down Fort Street in Victoria on Feb. 27, 2021. (CHEK News)

Jeff LawrenceJeff Lawrence

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