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‘Hugs Over Masks’ protesters charged after Sunday demonstration at Hamilton city hall

Three people are facing charges for violating the province’s current COVID-19 regulations after a small anti-mask rally near Hamilton city hall on Sunday, police say.

A 52-year-old man is facing six charges in connection with the event, including obstructing a peace officer, trespassing, failing to wear a mask and failing to physically distance.

Two others are facing single charges: a 49-year-old man charged with trespassing, and a 32-year-old female ticketed for not wearing a face mask.

Individuals found in contravention of the Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) and Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) face fines of up to $10,000 each.

Read more: 13 ‘Hugs Over Masks’ protestors charged after another demonstration at Hamilton city hall

Current lockdown orders are encouraging residents to stay at home, limit gatherings to just five people, maintain a two-metre distance (six feet) from others and wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.

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Last month, 13 people were charged for congregating with a group larger than five at a similar rally on Jan 17.

Sixteen charges were laid at that “Hugs Over Masks” event, a regular occurrence in Hamilton on Sundays since July.

The group claims the protests are in support of “restoring our liberties” in Ontario and that current COVID-19 measures are “unnecessarily harming Ontarians’ health and rights.”

Police say the rallies have been getting smaller over the last few weeks. Only four people showed up on Feb. 7.

The organizers did not come to the event, according to investigators.

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