Mayor Jeff Lehman and council issue open letter calling on Meridian Place lockdown protests to end

“You may think this is about freedom, but it isn’t – you are only contributing to the spread of this virus, which in turn, robs people of their freedom by getting them sick. You are endangering the very people you think you are advocating for by making it unsafe for them to be in a public square.” – Mayor Jeff Lehman


An Open Letter to the organizers, speakers, and anyone planning on coming to the protest this Saturday at Meridian Place:

You are putting lives at risk by illegally gathering. Not just your own lives, but the lives of nurses, doctors, paramedics, police officers, and everyone else in our community. We’re writing to urge you to think about these people, and reconsider how you choose to protest.

In Barrie, our COVID cases have tripled in one week. The number of people arriving at RVH who are gasping for a breath due to severe COVID-19, is growing every day. These are our neighbours, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. More have died in the past ten days that at any point in the pandemic, except during the Roberta Place outbreak. You have the right to protest, and should you chose to do so, do it safely. Protest online. Post on social media. But do not gather in crowds.

You may think this is about freedom, but it isn’t – you are only contributing to the spread of this virus, which in turn, robs people of their freedom by getting them sick. You are endangering the very people you think you are advocating for by making it unsafe for them to be in a public square. You may think this is about supporting small businesses but in fact, you are hurting the very businesses you claim you’re helping by risking the health of their employees and by driving potential business away. Our downtown small business owners would encourage you to reconsider.

You may think this is about opposing the lockdown, but by spreading the virus you are contributing to the lockdown lasting much longer. We all have rights and freedoms, but none of us has the right to put other people’s lives at risk. You may point to other protests – but they happened once, not every Saturday, and other organizers made attempts to mask and keep people safe. You are intentionally ignoring these safety measures.

We understand you don’t like the lockdown. We don’t either – Nobody does. But it is saving lives. It’s what we need to do right now.

Please don’t gather. It’s wrong, it’s dangerous, and it’s incredibly selfish. On behalf of all of our residents, particularly the elderly, immunocompromised, and all others vulnerable to COVID-19, please stay home.

Signed:
Mayor Jeff Lehman
Deputy Mayor Barry Ward
Councillor Clare Riepma
Councillor Keenan Aylwin
Councillor Anne Marie Kungl
Councillor Robert Thomson
Councillor Natalie Harris
Councillor Gary Harvey
Councillor Jim Harris
Councillor Sergio Morales
Councillor Mike McCann
Prepared by/Key Contact: Mayor Jeff Lehman
officeofthemayor@barrie.ca (705) 792-7900

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