As Alberta reported a record-high 1,731 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, approximately 1,000 people gathered in front of Calgary City Hall for a protest against masks and other public-health measures.
The new high mark for cases came from 21,657 tests. That’s equal to about an eight per cent positive rate, in line with positivity rates over much of the past week.
Saturday was the 10th consecutive day in which Alberta has reported more than 1,000 new cases of the deadly novel coronavirus, which has now killed 524 Albertans after five additional deaths were reported.
Among those newly reported deaths were two Calgarians, including a woman in her 80s who was a resident at the Generations Calgary long-term care facility.
Alberta also logged an increase in hospital and intensive-care unit admissions Saturday. There are now 415 Albertans hospitalized with COVID-19, 88 of whom are in ICU — also record highs for each metric.
Active cases rose in the province Saturday, with 14,931 Albertans currently infected with the virus. It’s the highest count in Canada.
Saturday’s anti-mask protest in Calgary was led by a group called Walk for Freedom, which said on social media it was rallying to “protect our Charter rights.”
On Friday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi called anti-mask rallies “illegal” due to provincial limits on outdoor gatherings.
New provincial rules introduced Tuesday restrict outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 10 people, and many municipalities including Calgary have bylaws making the use of face coverings mandatory in many settings, though the city’s bylaw does not require mask use outdoors.
“Of course, police will always use their discretion in cases like this. They don’t want the enforcement to cause more danger for people,” Nenshi said. “Whether you agree or disagree, it is your right to assemble peacefully, however right now the law says you can only assemble in a group of 10.”