As the pandemic drags on, Calgary’s anti-mask protests pit citizens against each other.
Anti-mask and anti-lockdown protests increased in frequency and popularity as the Government of Alberta moved to impose new restrictions in response to rising COVID-19 cases. Every weekend, protesters march through downtown Calgary. On average, around 300 people are involved in each anti-mask protest.
Raman Preet Dhillon, a student at Bow Valley College, says she agrees with the anti-maskers. She dislikes wearing a mask and believes wearing it for a whole day leads people to re-breathe dirty air.
She has not attended the protests yet but she believes we all want freedom and want to live a normal life.
“The government is trying to get full control of the public and that is why they are placing every single day a new law and forcing public to follow them and they are getting people mentally upset.”
“I think wearing masks can cause other respiratory illness because we can’t get the fresh air to breathe,” Dhillon added. “I don’t think masks can help to stop the spread if still people can get affected by touching each other.”
Many Albertans strongly condemn anti-mask protests and protesters. Their chief concern is that neither the government nor the police is not taking any action against the public heath order violations.
“I am strongly against the anti-mask protests because we all should be following the AHS guidelines because they want to save the public from this danger,” said David Miguez, who is a Student Safety Ambassador at SAIT. “By not wearing a mask, protesting outside and social gathering outside, people are making the situations super dangerous for everyone.”
“The restrictions are in place and laws are there and I think police should step up.”
Miguez is particularly concerned that the protests take place in Prince’s Island Park, the centre of the city and a popular spot for people to relax with their families on weekends. They make people feel unsafe, he says.
“I am totally against these anti-mask protests and violations. As a health care worker, I think people should take this virus serious,” said Jasdeep Kaur, who volunteers at the Peter Lougheed Hospital in Calgary
She believes health care workers are working hard to save lives and putting their own lives at risk. Not wearing a mask can cause harm to people and can put someone in danger. People have to understand that new AHS guidelines are in place to protect the people and stop the spread of COVID-19.
The restrictions are in place and laws are there and I think police should step up. – David Miguez
“In this pandemic, hospitals are overcrowded because of rise in COVID-19 cases. Anti-mask protesters are spreading this virus and breaking the AHS guidelines which is unacceptable,” she said.
Heath care workers, Kaur says, wear medical masks and face shields, and they sanitize their hands after every medical procedure. They use all possible safety measures to protect themselves and others from the virus. All ordinary Calgarians should do the same.
The Government of Alberta finally seems concerned about the ongoing protests. It has doubled the fine for violating AHS guidelines from $1000 to $2000.