A small group of anti-mask protesters were seen in downtown Toronto as masks became mandatory in all indoor public spaces on Tuesday.
The group gathered at Yonge-Dundas Square and took the TTC up to Bloor-Yonge station sans masks, wearing t-shirts bearing the words “hugs over masks.” The TTC declared masks mandatory on all transit on July 2.
TTC spokesman Stuart Green said 84 per cent of riders have been complying with mask regulations and said those who cannot wear masks due to medical conditions are exempt.
“[We] know that the vast majority of Torontonians and TTC customers will do the right thing for their fellow customers and our employees by wearing a face covering to stop the spread of COVID-19,” he said in a statement. He also thanked the protesters for paying their fare.
Once at Yonge and Bloor streets, protesters held up signs that read “no fear” and shouted slogans over a megaphone about making informed decisions.
They also spoke to passersby explaining their reasoning for not wearing masks which included reduced oxygen flow. Protesters and masked pedestrians were seen arguing over the pros and cons of masks.
Denise Howe, a passerby wearing a mask, said the protesters are likely spreading a lot of misinformation.
One of their points she disagreed with is the belief that “if you wear a mask you’re going to be inhaling CO2 and it’s going to render your immune system inoperable and you will get the infection,” she said, quoting the protesters.
“You can’t fight idiocy,” she added.