Anti-Lockdown event held at local business


Following a Facebook post on Thursday last week, by the South Branch Bistro, the Kemptville community was abuzz about the announcement that the Bistro would be hosting a public event with No More Lockdowns Canada, that encouraged people to violate the government-mandated shutdown and the Stay at Home Order which was declared by Premier Doug Ford on April 7.

photo by KC Gervais

Mayor Nancy Peckford intervened prior to the event and asked the local business owners to cancel this event because it violated the order made by the province and the recommendations by the Health Unit of Lanark Leeds Grenville. There was much criticism by local people on social media, who expressed concerns that this event would put local people at risk of contracting COVID-19 because it was encouraging a large gathering.

In a public post on social media, the business owners stated, “We understand your concerns but it’s time for us to take care of our family and staff.” The owners stated that they felt there was no other option available to them because the lockdown put them in a position where, “We were faced with two choices – stay open to feed our family, or close for good.”

During the evening of April 8, 2021, members from the Grenville County Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) attended a large gathering outside of the South Branch Bistro on Clothier Street East, in the Municipality of North Grenville.

Former Conservative, and now Independent MPP Randy Hillier of Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, was in attendance to rally the crowd of 200 unmasked people, none of whom were socially distancing. Hillier has been openly and publicly defiant of masking requirements and lockdowns.

photo by Joselyn Morley

The OPP received numerous requests to attend the area. They estimated the crowd to be about 200 people. The OPP attended the area with a primary focus on maintaining public safety. The local public health unit, Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, and North Grenville By-Law Services also attended. No charges were laid and the incident is still under investigation.

Mayor Nancy Peckford stated, “I am sorry that anyone would believe that this kind of event is a way forward. We know gatherings like this pose a significant danger to those who participated, employees at the restaurant, and our community at large.”

At press time, North Grenville Times learned that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario suspended the liquor license for South Branch Bistro and was in the process of revoking the license for reasons of public interest and safety. The interim suspension takes effect immediately.


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