SASKATOON -- Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark urges anyone attending a Black Lives Matter rally to take COVID-19 precautions seriously.

He asks participants to wear masks and practice physical distancing.

“I am aware that there are additional rallies being organized in the days to come related to racism and Black Lives Matter,” he said in a Facebook post on Thursday.

“We are facing the collision of two pandemics and we need to take each of them very seriously. People’s right to be heard is a fundamental right in the Canadian constitution.”

The provincial government’s guidance around rallies is meant to protect participants, their families, their relatives and the whole community, he said.

He noted that people can carry the disease and infect others and not show symptoms themselves.

“This community has made many sacrifices for the past three months and it has saved many lives.

“Let’s all work together to continue to protect the health of our elders and those most vulnerable in our community, while still making your voices heard on these defining issues of our time.”

A new study, released on Thursday in Proceedings of the Natural Academy of the United States of America, suggests that mandatory face masks prevented more than 78,000 infections over a month’s span in Italy and prevented more than 66,000 infections during a three-week span in New York City.

In addition to masks and physical distancing, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab has previously suggested the following precautions:

  • Organizers are encouraged to have gatherings done in vehicles
  • People marching on foot should keep at least two metres between people at all times.
  • Participants should wash their hands often and not share items
  • Physical distancing should be expanded during singing and chanting, as that expels the novel coronavirus at a greater velocity and distance
  • People should consider using signs or banners instead

With CTV News files