Maple Creek mayor urges people to stay away from weekend COVID-19 protest

·2 min read
Maple Creek is bracing for a rally to protest measures intended to stop the spread of COVID-19, which is set to arrive on Saturday.  (Guy Quenneville/CBC - image credit)
Maple Creek is bracing for a rally to protest measures intended to stop the spread of COVID-19, which is set to arrive on Saturday. (Guy Quenneville/CBC - image credit)

The mayor of Maple Creek says she hopes people in her southwestern Saskatchewan town will stay away from a rally to protest COVID-19 restrictions planned for this weekend.

Mayor Michelle McKenzie says she is aware of an expected gathering in opposition to the government's public health orders. But she hopes people in town will stay home, and notes there will be a police presence.

"The RCMP are going to monitor the situation from outside and they're going to be videotaping everything, so if there is any breach of the public health code there, they'll be able to get fines later," said McKenzie.

Current public health orders in the province restrict outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 10 people.

According to the website and Twitter feed of Chris Saccoccia, who goes by the name "Chris Sky" and has rallied against health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, his "freedom convoy" is set to arrive in Maple Creek on Saturday.

A "Calgary Freedom Walk" video dated April 17 and posted on Saccoccia's website shows him leading a crowd of dozens of unmasked people in a chant of, "Just say no!"

Anti-masker Chris Saccoccia is set to arrive in Maple Creek on Saturday for what his website and Twitter feed call a 'freedom convoy.'
Anti-masker Chris Saccoccia is set to arrive in Maple Creek on Saturday for what his website and Twitter feed call a 'freedom convoy.'(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The Maple Creek area saw a spike in COVID-19 cases after an Easter weekend party went "way over" the current outdoor gathering limit, according to Health Minister Paul Merriman.

Dozens of people became infected with COVID-19 after attending the party, where there was "minimal" adherence to public health rules, Merriman said.

According to Global News, more than 100 people attended that party and the ensuing outbreak involves the B117 coronavirus variant, which was first identified in the U.K.

As of Friday, 40 cases of COVID-19 were tied to the event.

McKenzie says those infections drive home the importance of following pandemic measures like physical distancing, hand-washing and avoiding large gatherings.

"If anything comes out of this, I would really like a positive message that these rules are set in place for a reason, and this is how quickly something can happen."