With the last two Saturdays seeing No More Lockdown protests in Bancroft, Mayor Paul Jenkins is asking them to “get with the program.”
The Mayor says initially, the Town of Bancroft allowed their gatherings to happen. Without the stay-at-home order, Jenkins felt like they could be flexible with the interpretation of public health restrictions. He describes the first gathering in front of the municipal office as having smaller groups of five people who were complying with guidelines. However, things have now changed. With Hastings Prince Edward Public Health and the province imposing a ban on gatherings, protesters moved to Millenium Park.
Jenkins says that the town and OPP are working closely on this issue, and the last two protests are being reviewed with some charges already being laid. However, Jenkins notes that there is a fine balance to play. OPP going in and arresting all of the protesters would be counterproductive, as it could encourage more protests and even counter-protesters. That would defeat what concerned residents are trying to achieve. With rising COVID case counts in neighbouring Haliburton County, he says they don’t have the ability to deal with a similar rise in the numbers.
If future protests do happen, Jenkins says OPP will respond in an escalating manner. Town staff has received many complaints and comments about the protests and says they are a clear violation of the lockdown rules. The public health guidelines are now more straightforward than they were and are not hard to interpret. He says while the vaccination program in North Hastings is going very well, and that he recognizes the hardship lockdowns put on people, they have the same effect on everyone, and it is up to everyone to follow the rules. He says above all, he is most concerned about community safety.