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Protesters march against COVID-19 prevention measures in Vancouver
VANCOUVER -- Around 50 people marched through Vancouver's West End Sunday to protest measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, an unprecedented global pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
The "No More Lockdowns" protest in Vancouver follows similar protests in the United States and Ontario, where protesters have called for an end to measures like physical distancing, the closure of certain businesses, and health officials' recommendation to stay home as much as possible to avoid spreading COVID-19. Some have called the virus a hoax, while others have complained the measures are too harsh.
Measures to contain COVID-19 have led to widespread business closures and job losses, but have been seen as necessary to prevent the illness from overwhelming the health system and killing more people.
While thousands of people have protested in several American cities, protests in Canada have been small: on Saturday, around 100 people protested in Toronto, leading Ontario Premier Doug Ford to call them "a bunch of yahoos."
At the protest in Vancouver on Sunday, one woman carried a sign that read "Medication not vaccination," while another man wore a sweatshirt that appeared to reference the Flat Earth movement.
In a livestreamed video made by one of the protesters, some marchers complained that people in one apartment building had thrown eggs at them.
Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End, said many constituents had reached out to him with concerns about the protest.
"I’ve alerted the Ministry of Public Safety for their information, and reached out to the Vancouver police who have the responsibility for enforcing orders. I don’t want our community’s safety threatened by selfish people who won’t do their part to stop COVID-19," Chandra Herbert said in a post on Facebook.
"Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about this issue. Let’s keep staying positive, staying close to home, and looking out for each other - together we will win this fight."
After an earlier, much smaller protest group marched on April 12, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix characterized the protesters as people with "marginal views."
"Don't allow people who are attempting to promote themselves by using the suffering of others to distract us," Dix urged on April 13. "Don't look at them, but focus on what we need to do together."
In a statement, the Vancouver Police Department said it would be monitoring the protest and has "plans in place to deal with any situation that may arise, however, for security reasons we would not share publicly."
The VPD also said, "We will continue to educate the public around social distancing measures and the importance of it."