Should B.C. do anything about COVID-19 truthers flouting physical distancing rules?
VANCOUVER -- While most British Columbians spent the holiday long weekend dutifully following public health advice, a small group of protesters gathered outside Vancouver City Hall to flout physical distancing rules.
About a dozen people turned up, ignoring repeated pleas from health officials to maintain a two-metre distance from one another in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Among them was a small child.
Some of the participants have publicly dismissed the government's attempts at containing the virus as "tyranny," and the disease itself as a "common cold," even as the national death toll from COVID-19 continues to climb by the day.
During her virus briefing on Monday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced another 11 deaths in B.C. alone since Saturday.
Asked whether the province should do anything to address this kind of intentional rule-breaking among conspiracy theorists, Henry said the important thing is that the vast majority of British Columbians are respecting the official restrictions and guidelines.
"There are some people who are trying to make a name for themselves," she said. "But we know that most people are following the rules, and that is making a difference."
A video posted by one of the protesters that encourages others to break the rules and enjoy the sunshine has been viewed more than 1.6 million times on social media, though Henry suggested many of the people who watched it do not support the message.
"They may be looking at videos that tell them to break the rules because of concern, and I get a lot of emails about it," she said. "I look in my neighbourhood, we look at places around the province, the vast majority of people are doing what we need them to do."
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the truthers who are downplaying the seriousness of the virus and ignoring the rules designed to keep people safe have "marginal views" that go beyond COVID-19. One of the people photographed at Sunday's event appears to have been wearing a T-shirt representing the Flat Earth movement.
"Don't allow people who are attempting to promote themselves by using the suffering of others to distract us," Dix urged. "Don't look at them, but focus on what we need to do together."
An early of this version incorrectly stated there were hundreds of COVID-19 deaths across Canada on Monday. There have been 780 deaths total since the virus was first reported in the country.