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‘It’s time for them to step up and break this up’: B.C. nurse frustrated with anti-mask rallies

Click to play video: 'B.C. nurse frustrated anti-mask rallies continue amid COVID-19 case surge' B.C. nurse frustrated anti-mask rallies continue amid COVID-19 case surge
Frustration is growing over anti-mask protests continuing with seemingly no consequences as B.C.'s COVID-19 case count surges and as Kristen Robinson reports, some feel the demonstrators are getting a free ride while everyone else is expected to follow the rules – Dec 6, 2020

Amid a COVID-19 case surge, a B.C. nurse wants to see the province fine anti-maskers who continue to hold regular mask-less rallies despite a provincial mask mandate and public health order banning social gatherings.

“I just think it’s time for them to step up and break this up,” Kim Carlson told Global News Sunday.

The registered nurse who works in Fraser Health said she often runs into organized and “unregulated” anti-mask protests in Vancouver, where she resides.

Carlson said everybody from health care workers to average citizens are frustrated with 2020 and the ensuing COVID-19 fatigue – but it’s a slap in the face that certain people appear to be exempt from pandemic restrictions when everyone else is expected to follow the rules.

“People have experienced so much loss this year and that’s not an excuse for a group to be able to gather and break public health orders,” Carlson said.

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Read more: Anti-mask rally amid B.C. COVID-19 case surge ‘really concerning’: respirologist

Eighty-six people have died of COVID-19 in B.C. in December alone. Active cases in the province and hospitalizations have continued to set daily records in recent weeks.

The city’s anti-mask rally Saturday was headlined by former Canucks’ anthem singer Mark Donnelly, who was fired on Twitter by team owner Francesco Aquilini Friday, hours after a Vancouver Sun report on Donnelly’s new and controversial gig.

“Hey @VancouverSun, change the headline to ‘Former Canucks anthem singer.’ #wearamask,” wrote Aquilini.

Click to play video: 'Former Canucks anthem singer has no regrets about anti-mask rally gig' Former Canucks anthem singer has no regrets about anti-mask rally gig
Former Canucks anthem singer has no regrets about anti-mask rally gig – Dec 5, 2020

Read more: B.C. extends ban on social gatherings until Jan. 8, restricting Christmas and New Year’s events

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Public relations professionals praised Aquilini’s move as an epic play.

“You have the power to influence public behavior and that’s what we need to fight this pandemic,” said Renu Bakshi of Renu Bakshi Communications.

“When you have an extension of your team, a high-profile member of your team acting counter to your safety message by participating in an anti-mask rally, you have to act decisively and quickly.”

While Canadians have a right to peaceful protest, B.C.’s Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General said police also have the power to enforce COVID-19 rules when situations escalate.

“They will ticket people when they have been told, for example, to move along or disperse and they don’t,” Mike Farnworth told Global News.

Vancouver police said no tickets were issued at Saturday’s anti-mask rally, and no arrests were made.

“This crowd is already fueled,” Const. Tania Visintin of the Vancouver Police Department said.

“They’re already passionate about a situation, and ticketing or making arrests can sometimes aggravate that crowd more.”

Click to play video: 'Video captures confrontation over mandatory mask at Victoria market' Video captures confrontation over mandatory mask at Victoria market
Video captures confrontation over mandatory mask at Victoria market – Nov 28, 2020

Read more: B.C. Christmas and holiday events 2020: What’s cancelled and what’s going ahead?

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Carlson told Global News she understands the safety challenges for police in enforcing protests but feels there should be consequences for people who intentionally choose to gather mask-less – and it appears Dr. Bonnie Henry shares her frustration.

It really, in some ways, is a slap in the face,” the provincial health officer said Monday.

“It does increase one’s outrage factor, especially when I know there are people who are working day and night in our health care system.”

Farnworth was more blunt in his message for the small minority of anti-mask activists, anti-vaccine activists, and conspiracy theorists.

“These irresponsible idiots need to look in the mirror,” he said.

“They are the problem and the sooner we get this curve bent down, the sooner we get COVID under control, then they can go back to their narcissistic self-indulgent ways – but until that time, they don’t have the right to endanger the health of the public.”

– With files from Simon Little

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