Lethbridge police investigating rally against public health restrictions

Lethbridge police say officers are investigating a rally against public health restrictions that took place outside city hall on Tuesday.

Police said charges may be pending, and as the investigation is ongoing no further information will be provided at this time. 

The release comes one day after police say a business in the southern Alberta city was charged for breaking public health restrictions. 

Police didn’t name the business, but said the owner was told to appear in Lethbridge court on Jan. 22. 

The investigation by  Alberta Health Services and police came following a “call to action” on social media, police said, as some business owners expressed an intention to break COVID-19 restrictions. 

Alberta’s current mandatory public health measures, which include a ban on social gatherings, limitations to business capacity and closures for some categories of businesses like bars and hair salons, were set to expire on Monday, but the province announced last week that the measures would be extended until Jan. 21 due to continued spread of coronavirus.

Pressure on hospitals in the province has continued to increase, with 819 people in hospital, including 132 in intensive care on Tuesday. That same day, the province hit a sad new record, with 38 deaths reported in a single day. 

Estheticians in Medicine Hat protested earlier this week, calling for the chance to reopen, but Medicine Hat police say they aren’t aware of any businesses in that city planning to contravene health orders. 

A police spokesperson said in an emailed statement that Medicine Hat residents have worked with police to safely express dissatisfaction with current restrictions, while following them. 

If charges are laid following Lethbridge’s rally, it won’t be a first in Alberta. 

Criminal charges and tickets have been handed out following ongoing rallies against mandatory masking and other public health restrictions in Calgary. 

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