CORNWALL, Ontario – In a statement on Thursday afternoon, Dec. 10 the Cornwall Police Service (CPS) again warned organizers of so-called “freedom” rallies to not break provincial COVID-19 regulations around public gathering limits.
There have been regular rallies in Cornwall opposing masks and other COVID-19 related safety regulations.
“Police will continue to monitor gathering sizes, investigate upcoming protests and enforce the temporary emergency orders in place,” reads the CPS statement. “The limit for outdoor unmonitored organized gatherings continues to be a maximum of 25 people. Anyone attending and/or participating in the organization of an event may be subject to offences under the Reopening Ontario Act, with fines up to $100,000. Our officers will ensure pedestrian, public and traffic safety by making sure that participants possess proper vehicle equipment and abide by the rules of the road.”
The most recent rally was held on Nov. 21 and exceeded 100 individuals, leading to two of the organizers being charged.
Another rally is planned for this coming Saturday. The rallies typically begin at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) office at 1000 Pitt St., and then follow Pitt St. into Cornwall’s downtown.
A petition has been circulated asking that police enforce COVID-19 regulations, and also keep the rallies out of the downtown.
“We want freedom rallies and marches rerouted out of the downtown Cornwall core to a safer area where they won’t disrupt people and businesses,” the petition reads. “We demand that those who attend these rallies and protests be mandated to supply their information for responsible contact tracing.”
CPS stated that they were committed to ensuring that COVID-19 regulations are enforced in the interest of public safety.
“The Cornwall Police Service (CPS) would like to remind our community that public safety remains our number one priority. In accordance with public health orders, limiting interactions at unmonitored events is essential to preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The risk of harm to vulnerable members of our community during this public health emergency remains high,” the CPS statement reads.