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Town of Aylmer declares state of emergency ahead of ' anti-masking freedom march'

Last Updated Nov 2, 2020 at 7:18 pm EDT

People participate in a rally dubbed a "freedom march" in Aylmer, Ontario on Oct. 24, 2020. Credit: Facebook - Kimberly Neudorf

The town of Aylmer, Ont., has declared a state of emergency ahead of a rally scheduled for this weekend.

The declaration, signed by mayor Mary French, says the emergency went into effect at 2 p.m. Monday “as a result of the potential for civil unrest and service disruptions relating to protests and demonstrations regarding COVID-19 directions, recommendations and orders set out by the Province of Ontario and Southwestern Public Health.”

Aylmer police said in a tweet that the move was in direct response to an “anti-masking freedom march” planned for Nov. 7.

The rally dubbed a “lawful public freedom march” was billed as a family-friendly event and was to take place at the East Elgin Community Centre parking lot.

The rally was to be the second of its kind — the first was held on Oct. 24 — with a focus on what organizers believe to be restrictive government policies and advocating for freedom.

Aylmer has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Oxford, Elgin and St. Thomas counties thus far, with 89 of the 337 cases reported by the Southwestern Public Health Unit on Monday coming from the town.