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Watch: More than 100 people gather for hours downtown to protest COVID-19 restrictions

'Rally of Freedom' held in Sudbury despite the city being in Grey-Lockdown zone

Anger and frustration over pandemic restrictions drew a crowd of protesters to downtown Sudbury today. 

The Sudbury area has been in the Grey-Lockdown zone since March 12, which means that organized public events and social gatherings are limited to 10 people outdoors.

But the restrictions didn't deter the more than 140 people who gathered outside Tom Davies Square on March 20. The event began around noon and the crowd was still large two hours later. By around 3:30 p.m., most of the crowd had dispersed. 

Protesters cheered and waved signs as part of a "Rally For Freedom" against COVID-19 restrictions. From young children to older adults, they congregated along the sidewalk on Paris Street in front of city hall and along median, urging drivers to honk their horns, which many did with enthusiasm. 

The mood of the crowd was friendly. Few people were wearing masks or social distancing while was in attendance.

Slogans on the signs people carried varied. Some expressed opinions regarding masks or vaccines, while others criticized pandemic restrictions as totalitarian and contrary to Canadians' charter rights. Other signs expressed frustration at restrictions placed on certain businesses, such as salons. did see what appeared to be two plainclothes police officers with radios among the crowd. No uniformed officers or cruisers could be seen and no effort was made to break up the crowd while a reporter was present.

In addition to outdoor gathering being limited to 10 people, restrictions listed under the province's Grey-Lockdown zone include:

  • No indoor gatherings, except with members of your household or one other household if you live alone. 
  • All retail stores in Sudbury and Manitoulin are permitted to open with limited capacity. 
  • Restaurants remain open for outdoor dining, take-out and drive-through only.**
  • Indoor gyms, personal care services, theatres, casinos and attractions are closed. 

On March 20, Public Health Sudbury & Districts reported 34 new cases of COVID-19 in the Sudbury area. 

This brings the total case count to 1,164 locally since the pandemic began. 

There are currently 268 active cases in the area. 

Currently, there are three confirmed cases of the COVID-19 variant. Although, 246 cases have been screened positive for variants of concern. 

As of March 19, Health Sciences North had 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among admitted patients, eight of which are in the ICU. 19 other patients are still awaiting test results.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 15 COVID-related deaths in the Sudbury region.

**Restrictions on outdoor dining at restaurants have changed. As of March 20, restaurant patios are permitted to open as long as protocols are followed. Patrons may only be seated with members of their same households, with limited exceptions for caregivers and people who live alone. Contact information is required for all seated patrons. Limited capacity, masks and distancing still apply. Read more here

Heather Green-Oliver

About the Author: Heather Green-Oliver

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