SASKATOON -- Public rallies increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission and put the community at risk, Saskatchewan Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says.

“The risks and public health violations apply to all large gatherings. While peaceful public protests are a part of our democracy, please be aware of the elevated risk to yourself and your loved ones, particularly those in your extended household who may be more vulnerable,” a news release says.

The warning comes after a Black Lives Matter rally at the Legislature in Regina and with others planned for other Saskatchewan communities.

Organizers are encouraged to have gatherings done in vehicles, according to the release.

People marching on foot should keep at least two metres between people at all times.

Participants should wear masks, wash their hands often and not share items, the release says.

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, the release says.