New Brunswick public health officials will be at scheduled anti-mask rallies

SAINT-JEAN, NB –

The New Brunswick government says it is ready to act in response to a widely shared social media post encouraging a gathering of maskless shoppers.

The message tells people to gather at Wal-Mart stores in Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton at a specific time and enter each store in large groups, without wearing a mask.

The post encourages people to make a purchase in the store and, if declined, to drop the items at checkout before going out.

Premier Blaine Higgs said the province-wide requirement to wear a mask in public spaces will be upheld.

“I assure you that our public safety officials will have been watching what is planned and will be present,” Higgs said.

The maximum fine for violating a COVID-19 regulation in New Brunswick is $ 20,400.

A statement from the Department of Justice and Public Safety says peace officers “will deal with any violations they find.”

“New Brunswickers don’t need the risk created by a dangerous stunt like this, and essential retail workers certainly don’t need to be put in that position,” the written statement said. “Anyone who is tempted to be part of this organized violation of the law should stay away.”

Wal-Mart Canada did not comment.

Throughout the pandemic, frontline retail workers have been forced to bear the brunt of anger over COVID-19 decisions made by the government.

“Retailers, restaurants, they don’t make these rules,” says Jim Cormier of the Retail Council of Canada. “They are obeying the law. Our members will be prepared as much as possible to try to defuse these situations and I hope they do not have to deal with them.”

Cormier says the anger is directed at the wrong people, in the wrong place.

“It is not acceptable to use a retail space, to use a restaurant, to use a hospital, as an accessory,” he says.


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Sara H. Byrd

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