(BC Ferries/Twitter)

A group of anti-mask protestors were issued a 24 hour ban from BC Ferries vessels after causing a disturbance on the ferry.

In a statement to Victoria Buzz, BC Ferries confirmed that about 50 “non-mask wearing people” were taking the 8:30 a.m. ferry from Departure Bay in Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver.

“There was a confrontation with customers who were wearing masks. We called West Van Police to meet the ship at Horseshoe Bay,” said BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall.

Out of those 50 people, 12 were banned for the day by BC Ferries.

On the other side of the strait, West Vancouver Police officers awaited the arrival of the ship to make sure no further disturbances were caused.

“Officers didn’t observe anything that would cause any concern related to indications of disturbance on the boat,” said West Van Police communications officer Cst. Kevin Goodmurphy.

Goodmurphy did add, however, that a conversation with the occupants of a few vehicles revealed they were on their way to take part in a larger demonstration hosted by a group “that were protesting COVID-19 measures”.

They were allowed to proceed on their way.

The event and responses

Reports suggest that over 1,000 people gathered in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Saturday, spreading COVID-19 conspiracy theories, anti-mask rhetoric, and other forms of misinformation.

The event description states that the group was protesting “censorship, lockdowns, mask mandates, vaccine mandates, quarantines, travel bans, social distancing, contact tracing, and government orders”.

It is important to note that mask use and vaccinations are not mandated by the provincial government.

When asked about her reaction to the growing number of people expressing disbelief in government measures meant to reduce COVID-19 transmission rates, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stated that the people at the protest represent a small but vocal minority of the population in B.C.

“Sometimes when there’s challenges you don’t understand, some people’s reaction is to go along with conspiracy theories that are out there,” said Henry, in response to a Victoria Buzz question on the subject.

She went on to state that a lot of the strategies employed by COVID-19 conspiracy theorists to gain followers are the same types of things anti-vaccine activists have done to attract attention.

“Some of it reflects some of the political rhetoric from our neighbours to the south,” she added.

“But this virus is in our community. I would just appeal to everybody to continue doing the right thing.”

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