ANTI-mask signs around Morden and other parts of southern Manitoba leave a bad taste in the mouth of the community’s mayor — it’s not just a symptom of life as a COVID-19 long hauler anymore.
Brandon Burley said on Monday he can’t believe people are putting this much effort into putting up signs and sticking them at the ends of driveways and other places.
"It doesn’t leave me with a lot of hope for humanity if we can’t even wear masks to help one another," said Burley. "It just seems like a lot of investment in both energy and resources to make the point.
"It is strange."
The signs show a picture of a mask in the middle of a red circle with a slash going through it and in large red capital letters the word "Warning".
It is followed at the bottom in black lettering: "Absolutely NO masks beyond this point. Violators will be prosecuted."
It is especially tough for Burley to figure out why some people are so against public health guidelines and restrictions because he knows the downside: both he and his family have been sickened by COVID-19.
Back in November, Morden’s 29th mayor put out on social media that he had contracted the novel coronavirus.
Burley said on Monday that his wife and four children also contracted the virus, but he is the only long hauler in his family.
He said his main COVID-19 legacy is everything tastes like unappealing sulphur and eggs.
"Even a hamburger," said Burley.
"Everything tastes like that. I’m losing weight."
Burley said he has told people their option is to challenge restrictions in court, which seven faith communities did in on Monday.
"There are better and legal ways of challenging restrictions," he said.
"But (masks) are such a simple thing. For it to be the reason people come after other people for it is unfortunate. It’s a shame this amount of selfishness and mistrust has dissolved the good will and fidelity we felt earlier in the pandemic."
Sandy Doyle, a Winnipegger who is originally from the Carman area, said a friend sent her a photograph of the sign along a highway in the RM of Stanley and she put it on social media. She has since heard the signs are popping up at the end of driveways in Winkler itself.
"I just shook my head," said Doyle. "It did not surprise me in the least.
"There’s no changing these peoples’ minds."
Doyle said in the hours after she posted it numerous people commented on it, several saying COVID-19 isn’t real, it’s a government conspiracy, and churches can do what they want.
"I have friends who live between Winkler and Morden who have health issues and they are infuriated by what they see going on there," she said.
Winkler Mayor Martin Harder said he hasn’t seen the signs yet.
"It is a sick and messed up time — there’s just extremes on either side," he said.
Harder said his position is "be safe, be fair, open Manitoba.
"My philosophy has been with all the changes with the rules it has just made people all confused."
But there’s one thing Harder has already done to help his local community — he has been vaccinated.
"These signs don’t help," he said. "It is probably an individual who takes things freely expresses his own opinion... it is interesting.
"You gotta laugh about it sometimes."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.