Bubble zones around hospitals and schools should be implemented

The anti-vaccine protests can’t be allowed to disrupt healthcare and education

(Kristen Frier)

(Kristen Frier)

Even as the world takes steps to limit transmission and mitigate the pandemic with mask mandates and vaccine passports, there are still people who think this is a bad idea. Many of these individuals have turned to voicing their complaints through protests.

After the anti-vaccine protests outside hospitals and schools in British Columbia last month, many affected healthcare workers and school principals asked for exclusion zones to be put around these key institutions.

Some hospital workers were allegedly verbally abused during these protests, with at least one report of assault, and ambulances could not safely transport patients experiencing health emergencies to the hospitals. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even promised in his election campaign to make it a criminal offence to block access to hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Some believe these protests should be banned altogether. While these actions are unacceptable and disturbing, they would potentially cause more distress than peace if a motion was put to ban these protests altogether. 

Canadians love the idea of living in a democracy, and if this was taken away, it’s possible, or even probable, that additional people would be demanding their voices be heard. The chaos that would ensue is a lot to think about, and while many of us want these protests to stop, it might be more dangerous than originally thought. In the end though, these protests around hospitals and schools that endanger people do need to stop, and until they do, implementing protest bubble zones might be the best option right now. 

Protest exclusion zones, also known as bubble or buffer zones, have only officially been used once back in the 1990s with the rising number of dangerous protests outside of abortion clinics. These zones were crucial in aiding the safety of everyone involved around these areas. It might be about time to start implanting these again. Seeing the same patterns of behaviour emerging here might make it more permissible for the government to take action. 

The people in hospitals have felt disrespected and demoralized when these protests take place outside their workplaces or rooms. 

In an article with CBC, Mike Old, a coordinator of policy and planning at B.C.’s Hospital Employees Union, says he thinks authorities should “take proportionate action to make sure that people can continue to access health care freely,” and that these protests should be relocated outside politicians’ offices, for example.

People can believe what they want about vaccines, but protesting about it shows the result of past issues and conflicts with themselves and their experiences. Schools and hospitals are not places where loitering and demonstrations should be happening at the expense of others’ safety. It is not the appropriate area, and it is unacceptable when it puts lives in danger. 

Safety is of the utmost importance. Not only does protesting in these areas cause danger and unnecessary stress, but it can also add to the spread of COVID-19. If protests cannot stop, take them to a bubble zone where people are not putting others in danger merely because they want to complain.