Warning over proposed anti-mask march
The City of Hamilton said yesterday that no request had been made to hold a protest against the use of masks and vaccinations in the fight against Covid-19.
A message that circulated on social media last Sunday said a march would start at City Hall on Friday.
Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley confirmed in a Facebook update that police were aware of a possible demonstration and were “dealing with it”.
But a City spokeswoman said: “The City of Hamilton has a policy as it relates to the use of all of its properties and facilities.
“Anyone wishing to use our property must seek permission and apply accordingly.
“As of today, no one has officially sought permission for the event in question.”
A social media message claimed earlier that an “anti-vaccine / anti-mask march” would be held at the Hamilton building.
It said: “For those of you who are tired and done with the lies, we need your support, please pass the word, remove the fear and know that it’s now or never.
“No more talk.”
The message added: “No masks allowed in this march.”
Mr Corbishley said in a vlog posted online yesterday that he was aware of the message.
He added: “From the point of view of the BPS, our role is that we support lawful protest – but that’s the key.
“We’re doing some work today, we’re engaging with the apparent organisers to discuss with them what they propose, but also to establish the lawfulness of such a march, because, of course, we’ve got regulations around physical distancing and around people wearing masks in public.
“If the intention of a demonstration is for people not to wear masks, it’s unlawful, so we’ve got to work through that.”
Mr Corbishley said: “It’s not to negate people’s opportunity – people have different views on that and that’s not a matter for the BPS to get involved with.
“But our matter is around people’s safety, so not just the people who may want to protest but also in regards to us, the wider community.”
He added: “We are aware, we are dealing with it, there’s a process that we go through and I’m sure we’ll be able to resolve it as we go forward.”
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of National Security said that the ministry was also “aware of the proposed event”.
The Royal Gazette asked if an application for a large group exemption had been made and if the organisers had contacted Renee Ming, the national security minister.
The ministry was also asked what talks were held with the Bermuda Police Service about any planned march but no further information was released.
David Burt, the Premier, said last Sunday, after he was asked about the Government’s stance on a possible anti- vaccination and mask march, that he would not “necessarily comment on things which may or may not be done”.
He added: “I’m just going to remind everyone of the importance of wearing masks and the reason why these public health interventions have been put in place.”
Mr Burt said: “I’m going to encourage every single person in Bermuda to follow public health guidelines.”
Ayoola Oyinloye, the Chief Medical Officer, added: “For the avoidance of doubt, masks work.”
He pointed out that the latest figures suggested about a third of people who had the coronavirus may show no symptoms.
Dr Oyinloye added: “The way the virus is spread is primarily through respiratory secretions so when we talk, when we sing, when we shout we are projecting micro-droplets from our mouths – and sometimes through our nose – out.
“What masks do, especially if you wear a mask with at least three layers, is that they stop that from spreading to other people.”
Dr Oyinloye said that, although masks did not give 100 per cent protection, they “drastically” reduced the amount of virus that could be spread.
He added: “New evidence is also suggesting that the mask also protects the wearer … so there is a win-win situation for you if you wear masks – you, one, are not likely to be able to spread the virus and two, increasing evidence suggests that you are less likely to be able to get a large dose of virus that could cause you illness.”
Dr Oyinloye warned that mask-wearing was “absolutely crucial” when social distancing could not be maintained.