Salt Spring Islanders gathered in downtown Ganges on Wednesday afternoon to protest British Columbia’s COVID-19 policy, in particular the vaccination requirement for non-essential services and entertainment venues coming into effect on Sept. 13.
Billed as an event supporting “unity, medical freedom and the right for everyone to choose,” the rally ran from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Organizers had sought to stretch a line of peaceful protest from the Beachside cafe all the way to Thrifty Foods and managed to cover at least half the distance. Many vehicles passing by showed their support by honking their horns.
Handmade signs shared statements from “resist medical coercion” and “no vaxx pass” to “Men, will you rise up to protect your kids and wives?”
The event also attracted a few counter protesters, including one young woman holding a sign stating “Vaccines work.”
A speaker at the close of the rally said the group plans to be back in town on Sept. 13. Starting that day, a provincial health order requires people aged 12 and up to have proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to attend places such as indoor concerts, theatre, dance and symphony events; restaurants and pubs; gyms, exercise facilities and pools; and indoor recreational classes and activities like pottery, art and choir. Post-secondary students living in on-campus housing in B.C. will also be required to be vaccinated.
Full vaccination with two doses is required for those situations by Oct. 24. The requirement is in place until Jan. 31, 2022 and could be extended.
Vaccinated residents can access their vaccine card through https://www2.gov.bc.ca/vaccinecard.html.