Tensions among those who choose to defy the COVID-19 rules are escalating, as Montreal joins the list of Canadian cities to mandate masks in some public places. After a two-week grace period, on Monday, masks became mandatory for public transit in Montreal. Cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, and Calgary, have already begun similar orders. One transit passenger in Montreal said that he had not seen people complain, people were wearing their masks, and they were doing what they are supposed to do.
Over the weekend, anti-mask protesters assembled in Quebec City and Montreal to air their disagreement to the mandate and to flaunt the public health guidelines with group hugs. However, most have followed the new rules. There were widespread shock and criticism after two men without masks in the Quebec City rally hugged a female reporter against her will while she was on the air. Kariane Bourassa, the TVA reporter who was hugged, indicated in a Twit that an unwanted ‘hug’ was no less bad than an insult or threats. She also wrote that women journalists should not have to do their jobs by constantly looking over their shoulders to see if someone was going to fit ‘their bubble.’
Genevieve Guilbault, Quebec Deputy Premier, condemned the incident saying that people certainly don’t have the right to endanger the health of others even if they have the right to speak up. She concluded that she would no longer tolerate situations like this, and anti-mask protesters could further spread the virus as they are spreading misinformation about the pandemic. Despite the guidelines, tensions have also intensified among those who choose not to wear a mask in public.
A video of an altercation between the man and another passenger from Montreal went viral last week when a man with his mask in his back pocket scoffed at a bus driver who told him to put it on. Guilbault also noted that it was important to point out that most people are following the rules and doing their best to contain the virus. She indicated that ‘we cannot allow the minority to divide us.’