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Hundreds attend ‘freedom’ rally in downtown London, Ont., Saturday

Click to play video: 'Hundreds attend ‘freedom’ rally in downtown London, Ont.' Hundreds attend ‘freedom’ rally in downtown London, Ont.
WATCH: Hundreds attend 'freedom' rally in downtown London, Ont – Mar 21, 2021

The medical officer of health for London and Middlesex says it was disappointing to find out a large crowd had gathered at Victoria Park in London on Saturday as part of the so-called Worldwide Rally for Freedom.

Photos of the rally appeared to show hundreds of unmasked people standing less than two metres apart.

“Of course people have the right to protest, it’s just sad that they’re choosing to protest about something like this,” Dr. Chris Mackie with the Middlesex-London Health Unit told 980 CFPL.

“It (feels) like they’re choosing their own selfishness above protecting the people around them.”

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Several speakers including Church of God pastor Henry Hildebrandt attended the rally and spoke to attendees.

“This is why we speak against oppression,” Hildebrandt told the crowd. “It’s not just about me and my church. It’s about everyone else … It’s about all of us.”

Anti-lockdown and anti-mask protests have taken place in London and surrounding towns in the past few months, but Mackie says Saturday’s rally could result in more serious consequences.

Read more: Dr. Mackie said people supporting anti-health measures rally are ‘rooting for COVID’

“We’re going into a third wave with a more dangerous virus that spreads more easily,” he said. “This is the sort of activity that will cause cases to explode.”

“One of the unfortunate things about this is (people) who participate in an anti-mask rally (sometimes) won’t go get tested, so it may be that we don’t see cases until there’s the second generation when those who acquired it at this event spread it to others in the community,” the medical officer of health added.

Mackie recommends those who attended the rally to monitor themselves for symptoms, get tested if they develop any and avoid contact with anyone for the next 14 days.

Read more: Coronavirus: London officials express disappointment, frustration over planned Aylmer rally

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“I think in a community, (you) have a duty to take reasonable steps to protect the people around us. It’s just disappointing that people are choosing to rally around the opposite cause,” he said.

London and Middlesex is currently in the orange-restrict zone of Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework.

Saturday’s rally exceeded the guidelines, which state up to 100 people can gather outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained.

Worldwide Rally for Freedom also saw rallies in cities near London on Saturday including Sarnia and Windsor.

Nationwide, rallies were also held in Kelowna, B.C., and Calgary.

Click to play video: 'Protesters gather outside Peterborough City Hall for Anti Lockdown rally' Protesters gather outside Peterborough City Hall for Anti Lockdown rally
Protesters gather outside Peterborough City Hall for Anti Lockdown rally – Mar 13, 2021

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