Halifax Regional Police have issued 21 tickets under the Health Protection Act and made “multiple arrests” following what they say were two separate illegal gatherings in Halifax, one day after a Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice issued a temporary injunction to stop a weekend anti-mask rally in the city.
Several people were arrested on Citadel Hill Saturday afternoon, where a group called “Freedom Nova Scotia” was scheduled to hold a rally protesting public health measures. About 50 people were in attendance, police said.
“These are serious times and serious measures sometimes have to be taken, and today was one of those days,” police chief Dan Kinsella told reporters outside Halifax Regional Police headquarters.
“We have been sending out messages regularly for people to comply with the guidelines of Public Health, and despite repeated messages and repeated warnings, people are still choosing to break and bend the rules.”
Under current COVID-19 restrictions, indoor and outdoor gatherings without physical distancing are limited to single households only. Smaller households with one or two people are allowed to gather together with other small households of one or two people, but it must be the same household every time.
People are allowed to meet with someone from another household for an outdoor activity like walking, but physical distancing must be maintained.
Under the Health Protection Act, individuals can be fined $2,000 for breaking gathering rules.
Arrests were also made at a car rally in support of the Free Palestine movement in the area of Inglis and Tower Road. While this wasn’t one of the anti-mask events singled out in the injunction, Kinsella said the order would apply to all rallies.
“The injunction is in effect for the entire province, and it’s to allow other municipalities, areas, counties, to be able to ensure the community stays safe, give some extra authorities for the police to take action when required,” he said.
“It was identified as an illegal gathering and the individuals that were participating were dealt with to ensure public safety.”
Police said about 200 vehicles were in attendance at that rally, “causing multiple violations under the Health Protection Act, Emergency Management as well as the Motor Vehicle Act.”
Police said further details and breakdown of the charges will be provided later.
— With files from Jesse Thomas