B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says a group of protesters calling for an end to physical distancing restrictions are “attempting to promote themselves” and are promoting “marginal views.”
Dix was responding to a viral video showing a group of about 12 to 15 people gathering closely together on a Vancouver street over the weekend in an attempt to protest measures put in place by the province.
“Vancouverites aren’t drinking the Kool-aid,” Dan Dicks said in the video.
Dicks posted the video on Sunday and has been viewed more than 2.2 million times by Monday evening.
Dix says a vast majority of British Columbians are following the rules and this is an example of a few people seeking attention.
“I think we’ve seen, in the past number of weeks, one or two examples of people behaving very badly,” Dix said.
“That may be inevitable in these times that people are attempting to, essentially, promote themselves — what I think is genuinely, if you look in any depth at their other views … marginal views.”
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A woman seen in the video was also advocating for the removal of distancing restrictions and objecting to calls from Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to stay inside in order to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
“Beautiful day here. It would be a shame to sit at home and let the government tell you what to do,” the woman in the video said.
The video has been widely criticized on social media.
Actor Seth Rogen, born and raised in Vancouver, tweeted to Dicks, calling him “a f$%^& idiot” and telling him to “stay inside.”
There have been other examples of British Columbians being openly hostile to the rules.
The operator of a Delta yoga studio that was shut down after claiming hot yoga can kill the novel coronavirus is facing an investigation after posting a series of videos in which he entered health-care facilities to get the “truth” about the pandemic.
One video shows Mak Parhar attempting to go through a COVID-19 drive-through testing site.
In another, he enters and explores Royal Columbian Hospital, using elevators and peeking into the intensive care unit and an area where COVID-19 patients have been isolated.
“I think what I’d say to people is focus on what we need to do together and don’t allow people who are attempting to promote themselves by using the suffering of others to distract us,” Dix said.
“Don’t promote them. Don’t look at them. But focus on what we need to do together.”
Royal Roads University political communications expert David Black says in abnormal times such as war, people suspend democratic politics as usual to a degree.
Black says we have every right to be cautious when governments give themselves unusual powers in a crisis. But such an assumption of powers has a history and a place in Canada and elsewhere, provided it is understood to be temporary and subject to checks and balances.
“When skepticism of government might well lead people to making stupid decisions about social distancing, that’s where video’s like this, apart from their counter-intuitive appeal, pose a public health risk,” Black said.
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