Several dozen unmasked people turned up to a protest against COVID-19 restrictions Friday evening, organized by a Vancouver restaurateur who made headlines for defying public health orders.
Demonstrators bore signs with slogans including, “No dictatorship in Canada” and “Compliance is a noose.”
The demonstration, held outside Corduroy Restaurant and organized by owner Rebecca Matthews, was advertised on Instagram as “restaurants against the great reset,” an apparent reference to the online conspiracy theory that COVID-19 is a ruse for world leaders to bring in a “new world order.”
Matthews declined an on-camera interview Friday, telling Global News she feels she’s misrepresented by the media. She said the protest was in support of small businesses facing bankruptcy as a result of pandemic restrictions.
“It’s very frustrating to see the usual suspects, a small minority of what are literally Covidiots that have completely, I think, just disgusted most British Columbians,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said of the protest.
“They are so flagrantly disrespectful of the health of other people, so flagrantly disrespectful of the need to work together to defeat this pandemic, and frankly they have absolutely no credibility with the vast majority of British Columbians who are doing the right thing.”
Corduroy was one of two restaurants that flouted a provincial order banning indoor dining earlier this month.
Following an anti-restriction protest at city hall, dozens of people gathered inside the restaurant, at one point chanting “get out” to health inspectors who came to speak with Matthews.
Health officials ordered the restaurant closed for several weeks and the province said it had pulled the Corduroy’s liquor licence in response.
B.C. has extended its ban on indoor dining until after the May long weekend.
After the restrictions were initially implemented as a three-week “circuit-breaker,” the province offered grants averaging $5,000 to affected businesses, but it has not committed additional funds since the length of the restrictions was more than doubled.