"Dancing is essential."
Dozens of anti-mask demonstrators gathered outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery on New Year's Eve to protest the B.C. government-imposed restrictions related to COVID-19.
And to dance, apparently.
The NYE Freedom Rally Dance Party kicked off around 8 p.m. outside of the Art Gallery and featured guest speakers, live music, a kid's corner, dance parties, and more. A flyer for the event states that the group opposes the government orders and "will celebrate the new year!"
The evening also included an appearance by former Vancouver Canucks national anthem singer, Mark Donnelly.
Donnelly made a previous appearance at a local anti-mask rally and was subsequently fired from his longtime position with the Canucks.
Protestors included members of various groups, including Hugs Over Masks, 5G and QAnon conspiracy theorists, anti-vaccine advocates, and more. They held signs that read "freedom is essential," "false evidence appearing real," "we are all essential," and "fake news."
At least one sign added that "dancing is essential," too.
After the count down to New Year's Eve, protestors screamed out "freedom" in the crowd.
Protestor allegedly bites Vancouver Police officer
A short while after at 11:30 p.m., the VPD says officers responded to a call for a protestor who was climbing on top of one of the statues on site.
While police were escorting the individual off the property, she allegedly bit one of the officers. The woman was charged with assaulting a police officer.
"Anti-Mask" sentiment in Metro Vancouver and beyond
In a COVID-19 daily briefing, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry underscored that she has "no time for people who are belligerent" and try to downplay the severity of the pandemic, or deny that COVID-19 exists.
"This is a truly challenging pandemic and I have no time for people who believe that wearing a mask somehow makes them ill or is a sign of lack of freedom," she said.
"To me, it's about respect for our fellow people who are suffering through this with us."