This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China.

“Hugs Over Masks” event not coming to Langley school, district says

The anti-masking group based in Ontario is planning an event in Surrey

Messages circulating via social media that an anti-mask wearing group is planning to hold an event in Langley appear to be false.

Posters shared on Facebook claim that an Ontario-based group called Hugs Over Masks Nation will hold a weekly event at Douglas Park Community School in Langley City.

“Join us for the celebration of life and freedom,” the poster says, promising “potluck, music, mask-free zone, hugs encouraged.”

The poster is undated and simply says it takes place “weekly.”

However, the Langley RCMP say they have never had a call about any mass gathering at the site, and the Langley School District tweeted that it has not rented to such a group.

“We have no record of renting our school site to this group or any groups,” the district statement said.

“The school and District are not connected to the event or the group responsible for organizing it.”

The Hugs Over Masks Nation website does not currently list a Douglas Park event.

Instead, it lists an event at Surrey’s Holland Park on Sunday, Aug. 9 at noon.

Mask-wearing in some situations has been encouraged by many public health officials in Canada and around the world as one way to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“If you are healthy, wearing a non-medical or cloth mask or face covering is a matter of personal choice and it might help to protect others,” according to the B.C. Centres for Disease Control. “This is because some people can spread the virus when they have very mild symptoms or may not know that they are infected.”

The BCCDC also recommends wearing masks for anyone who is sick or caring for someone with COVID-19, but notes that masks will have minimal effect if they are not used along with physical distancing and frequent hand washing. Children under two should not wear masks.

The province is currently in Phase 3 of re-opening after stricter regulations that began in March when numbers of coronavirus cases began spiking in B.C. and across the country.

Right now, the government recommends trying to limit the number of people in your “bubble” of household, family, and close friends.

Maintaining distance, and wearing masks when that is not possible, is recommended outside of the bubble.

“No handshaking or hugs with people outside of your bubble,” according to current Phase 3 guidelines.

The Langley Advance Times is attempting to contact a representative from Hugs Over Masks for a comment on whether there were ever plans for a Langley event.

The Hugs Over Masks website primarily mentions Ontario regulations, and most of the group’s scheduled events are to take place in that province.

The organization’s Twitter feed referred to the COVID-19 pandemic as a “scamdemic,” falsely claimed that “masks harm your health,” and commented on a story about the federal Conservative leadership race by calling Peter McKay a “global agenda puppet.”

READ MORE: B.C.’s daily COVID-19 case count jumps to 50

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