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Local Medical Officer of Health believes protests are 'irresponsible'

'I think that openly defying what is in place to help keep everybody safe is putting everybody at risk'
20210403 freedom rally 1
Dr. Jim Chirico is hoping protesters elect to hang up their picket signs with COVID-19 cases increasing. Photo by Chris Dawson/BayToday.

The region's Medical Officer of Health believes now is not the time for protests. 

While the COVID-19 numbers remain low in the North Bay-Parry Sound District Health Unit with only 21 active cases as of Thursday, the provincial numbers continue to rise at an alarming rate with a new one day record of 4,736 reported Thursday.  

Protesters part of the "Freedom Rally" are planning their third protest at the North Bay Waterfront on Saturday afternoon.  

"We have seen this in the past and I think it is really unfortunate that protests occur," said Chirico.

"I think that openly defying what is in place to help keep everybody safe is putting everybody at risk. I feel it is very irresponsible when they are not physically distancing and when they are not wearing face coverings." 

See related: Freedom rally supporters say restrictions are harming our children

See related: Over 100 join rally to protest COVID restrictions

During the last protest on April 3, the protesters insisted Ontarians should have a choice to wear or not wear a mask and have a choice whether or not they should take a COVID-19 vaccine.

"Give people the choice with the restrictions because it is weighing on everyone's mental health," one protester told the media on April 3.  

Chirico hopes the protesters become responsible.  

"You can protest but adhere to the gathering limits, adhere to the rules and the public health measures to keep people safe. So I hope that they reconsider and I hope they don't put anybody at risk," said Chirico. 

The Police have yet to lay any charges relating to any of the two other Freedom Rally's that have taken place at the waterfront in 2021.