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Nova Scotia judge issues temporary injunction to stop weekend anti-mask rallies

HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice has issued a temporary injunction to stop two weekend anti-mask rallies planned for the Halifax area.

In a decision released Friday, Justice Scott Norton said anticipated harm would be imminent because of the potential spread of COVID-19 at the scheduled rallies.

Norton said there is a greater public interest in maintaining the integrity of current public health restrictions than permitting the rallies to go ahead as planned.

A group called “Freedom Nova Scotia” was scheduled to hold a rally at Citadel Hill, in Halifax, at 1 p.m. Saturday, while a “Worldwide Freedom Rally” was to take place later that day on a baseball field in Barrington, N.S., at 6 p.m.

Norton said the groups are “uninformed or wilfully blind to the scientific and medical evidence” used to support the public health restrictions.

“Their plan to gather in-person in large numbers, without social distancing and without masks, in contravention of the public health recommendations and orders shows a callous and shameful disregard for the health and safety of their fellow citizens,” the judge said.

Norton noted the province’s hospitals are filling with COVID-19 patients, adding that health-care workers have been “working tirelessly” for 14 months to manage the health crisis. He said schools and many businesses have had to close, leaving people out of work.

“Yet, Nova Scotia has done better than many other provinces because its public health officials have taken an aggressive approach based on science, medicine and common sense,” Norton said. “It is appropriate to include notice that law enforcement officers will arrest and charge anyone in breach of the prohibitions.”

Meanwhile, health officials announced that COVID-19 vaccine appointments had opened Friday for people aged 35 and older. The 35-to-39 age group, which comprises about 63,500 people in the province, is now eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines at clinics across the province. 

Nova Scotia announced a milestone in its COVID-19 vaccination program on Thursday after administering a 400,000th dose of vaccine. Health officials said in passing that mark, the province had doubled the number of shots administered in less than a month. 

Officials reported 110 new cases of novel coronavirus on Thursday and 1,572 active cases. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2021. 

The Canadian Press