BC’s provincial health officer is encouraging demonstrators who attended the anti-racism rally in downtown Vancouver over the weekend to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 over the next two weeks.
At a joint press conference with BC Health Minister Adrian Dix on Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry said she was “very pleased” that Sunday’s demonstration at the Vancouver Art Gallery held to demand justice for George Floyd — the Black man who died this week after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck — was done peacefully.
“Like all Canadians, I strongly believe in the importance of upholding our values of inclusion, tolerance, and respect. Peaceful demonstration is our right, and one that is important to all of us,” said Henry.
“But we cannot forget we are still in a pandemic that is affecting our communities and our loved ones. 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,” she said.
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Henry recommended attendees monitor themselves for potential COVID-19 symptoms.
“Monitor yourself carefully over the next coming days to two weeks, and if you have any symptoms at all, you need to self-isolate, you need to get tested, you need to ensure you’re not contributing to further transmission of this virus,” she stated.
“We also know that right now, large gatherings remain very high risk, even outdoors. Those who were there yesterday, you may have put yourself at risk and you may bring that back to your home.”
Sunday’s rally was attended by thousands of people in Vancouver’s downtown core. BC currently has an order in place around mass gatherings.
“We have continuously said that 50 people is a maximum, and we know that these types of events can be risky. I think there are many people out there, and I know there were some leaders in this movement, for example, that respected the fact that this can put people at risk.”
Henry added that she saw many people at Sunday’s protest “wearing masks and keeping their safe distancing.”
For anyone planning on demonstrating at future events, Henry urges them “to keep that safe distance, to recognize the importance of making sure that we are not allowing this virus to spread.”
“Weigh your options. Think about the impacts,” said Henry.
“We have seen many people around the world demonstrating at a distance, and it is very impactful, and it is effective. Your message can still be heard clearly, no matter how far you stand.”