Protesters who joined a massive anti-racism rally in downtown Vancouver over the weekend should monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms for the next two weeks, health officials said Monday.
While there's no indication that any of the thousands of people who met outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday have the virus, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said gathering in crowds of that size still poses a high risk of infection, even when outdoors.
"Those who were there yesterday, you may have put yourself at risk and you may bring that back home, so you need to monitor yourself carefully," she said. "If you have any symptoms at all you need to self-isolate, you need to get tested, you need to be sure that you're not contributing to further transmission of this virus."
Henry also stressed that peaceful demonstration remains an important right for all British Columbians. She urged anyone participating in future protests during the pandemic to wear a mask and keep a safe distance from one another, as she said many people did on Sunday.
"We cannot forget that we are still in the middle of a pandemic that is affecting our communities and our loved ones," she said. "Taking care of ourselves and each other is our responsibility, particularly to communities that are at greater risk of having devastating impacts of this pandemic, and we know that includes racialized communities, we know that includes our Indigenous communities."
Henry also announced she was taking Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin's anti-racism pledge, which was announced on Friday. There has been ongoing concern about an increase in racist incidents linked to the COVID-19 crisis throughout the pandemic, many of which have targeted Asian-Canadians.
"Hate has no place in our province and we have said that many times throughout this pandemic, and throughout this pandemic we must continue to show the kindness and compassion that brings us together as a community," Henry said.
The protesters who gathered in Vancouver on Sunday waved signs and chanted their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd, the unarmed black man killed by Minneapolis police last week.