Approximately one hundred people attended an anti-mask children’s carnival in Saskatoon on Saturday, despite a rising case count, more contagious variants in the province and a COVID-19 exposure alert for the last anti-mask event.
Attendees began arriving at the Vimy Memorial in Kiwanis Park around 2 p.m. Around half were young children. Adults and kids blew bubbles and played with hula hoops. No one wore a mask.
A flyer for the event stated it would a “fun day” for kids, with face painting, balloon animals and “science table experiments.”
The flyer also said “donations of fish pond items or healthy wrapped snacks accepted and appreciated.”
The night before the Saskatchewan Health Authority issued a COVID-19 exposure alert for everyone who attended an anti-mask event in Prince Albert the previous Saturday.
It stated, “(i)ndividuals who participated in this event on April 17, 2021, must immediately self-isolate and call HealthLine 811, your physician or nurse practitioner.”
One anti-masker tweeted he was at the Prince Albert event and had hugged and shook hands with other attendees.
He wrote he would be attending the Saskatoon carnival, and had been to Costco, a Coop, several stores and even customers’ houses since the Prince Albert event.
He said he wouldn’t isolate.
A few hours before the event began Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark asked residents to stay away, tweeting, “(w)e have over 50 people fighting for every breath in ICUs in this province right now.”
“Stay home and stay away from these dangerous rallies,” he wrote.
The day before the carnival, 52 people across Saskatchewan were in intensive care for COVID-19 — a new record.
That number dropped to 51 on Saturday.
The Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) blocked off nearby Saskatchewan Crescent for the event, with patrol vehicles posted at each barricade.
The day before the SPS put out a statement saying many concerned residents had reached out.
The statement said officers will be in attendance “to ensure it is peaceful and restrictions under the Public Health Order are enforced.”
“Enforcement activity may not always be visible to members of the public,” the statement read.
The statement said the police response is a balance between protecting the rights of people to express their opinion and ensuring general public safety.
It also stated officers utilize “investigative techniques to identify key participants and those committing egregious acts for which enforcement activity would be appropriate.”
It said the SPS could lay charges after an investigation and that police have issued 25 tickets for public health order violations in Saskatoon since the start of the pandemic.
According to the Government of Saskatchewan, two people died from COVID-19 in the 24 hours prior to the event.