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A B.C. Ferry arrives at Horseshoe Bay near West Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 16, 2020. B.C. Ferries has rescinded layoffs for 500 workers.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

Police in West Vancouver were called to meet a BC Ferries vessel as it docked in Horseshoe Bay on Saturday after people opposed to public health restrictions aimed at fighting the spread of COVID-19 caused disturbances on board.

BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall says the group of so-called anti-maskers departed from Nanaimo at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and it’s believed they were heading to an event in Vancouver dubbed the “freedom rally.”

She says members of the group were verbally abusing mask-wearing passengers, so police were called to meet the vessel when it arrived.

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Marshall says anyone identified as being part of the group was banned from making a trip with BC Ferries for at least the rest of the day, so they would have to find a different way home.

She adds the remaining sailings between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay have been delayed about 45 minutes because of the incident.

Videos posted to Twitter show a crowd bearing anti-mask and anti-vaccine messages rallying outside the art gallery in Vancouver and the Facebook page for the event indicates a second rally is planned for Sunday.

Const. Jason Doucette says the Vancouver Police Department estimates the crowd reached about 1,000 people at its peak on Saturday.

Police in West Vancouver could not immediately be reached for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 17, 2020.

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