Anti-maskers protest again in Chatham


By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative

Chatham-Kent anti-maskers plan to protest the new mandatory masking bylaw for as long as it takes.

Over the weekend, around 30 individuals crowded both corners of King and Third streets, holding up various signs that read “end the lockdown” and “no masks; my body, my choice.” 

Protesters were there for various reasons, from doubting the science behind mask protection to claiming COVID-19 is a hoax or a virus blown out of proportion by the government and media. Others believed mandatory masks are an excuse to infringe on human rights.

“We’re protesting masks because there’s no science behind it. The science over the last 30 years does not state a mask will save you from a virus,” Sarash Dudgeon, event organizer, said. “I think this is blown out of proportion. Many more people die of the flu.”

Dudgeon is also concerned that the infection numbers and death toll in Chatham-Kent (0.67 per cent of those infected) is not high enough to warrant a pandemic status.

Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health, has said throughout the pandemic that medical masks do protect citizens from spreading the virus but to a minimal degree that does not warrant a mandatory bylaw.

Colby has maintained that social distancing and frequent hand washing/sanitizing was the best way to combat the virus.

In August, the municipal council opted to implement a mandatory masking bylaw for indoor public spaces.

Rachel Presley, another attendee at the rally, said she personally called every member of council, and all but two said they did not feel comfortable voting on a medical issue. 

The protesters are hoping council will revisit the bylaw and reverse their decision, saying it should have been left up to the medical officer of health.

Dudgeon said she cannot wear a mask for medical reasons and has been “attacked and degraded” while shopping in public places.

“And yet people aren’t even wearing the masks correctly,” she said.

The demonstrations will continue every Saturday afternoon and are part of a wider nation-wide movement to protest imposed COVID-19 safety measures and the lockdown.



  1. we are NOT anti-maskers, but pro choice maskers based on the evidence that is fully supported by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr Colby. Council made a political decision, not based on science or evidence, when they went against Dr Colby. Someone on Council needs to have the courage to step up and bring this forward and rescind this vote.

  2. Pro choice. This is what it is all about. You are part of a movement that are dedicating a lot of time and effort to spread the word. Everyone does not want to have government dictating having to don a mask in designated areas for a half hour while in a confined space. We should also think of those who have no choice like our front line workers. They have no choice to wear a mask for sometimes 24 hours a day. You see, many of you have it backwards. Masks are not designed to keep you from catching covid. Wearing masks is a selfless act to protect others. They reduce the risk to our beloved older and also infirm population. Think about it. This why doctors and support staff have been wearing them for over a century, to protect their patients.
    You see, a number of my family are front line workers. They are the same people that protect you from criminals, pull you from a burning building and the first ones you will call if you are unfortunate enough to catch covid, or need that life saving operation. You are all right. There is a lot we do not know yet about this unpredictable virus called covid19. What I am clear in my mind is if there even the slightest chance you can protect others and take some of the pressure off my family or even save their life by inconveniencing yourself for a few minutes, please do it. Its not really that hard in the grand scheme of this pandemic. Just look what happened in the U.S. Do we really want this happening over here. Please pro choice mask movement. Take that same time and energy you are putting into spreading your cause and put it into finding ways to help those families that are being affected by covid. I guarantee it will be much more rewarding!
    George Petricks


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