Northern Ontario police charge three people at Kirkland Lake 'freedom rally'

Three people from around northern Ontario have been charged for breaking gathering rules under Ontario's stay-at-home order following a protest in Kirkland Lake.

Ontario Provincial Police said in a news release Friday morning that three people in their 30s have been charged for hosting or organizing a gathering not authorized under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

The charges stem from a "freedom rally" that was held on April 24 at Kinross Pond in Kirkland Lake to protest the current COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the provincial government, Const. Adam Gauthier told CTV News.

It is unclear how many people attended the protest or if any other charges are pending.

As a result of an investigation into the event, a 35-year-old from Lebel Township, a 36-year-old from Kirkland Lake, and a 37-year-old from Matheson were all charged.

The province of Ontario declared a third state of emergency on April 7 and the current stay-at-home orders went into effect on April 8 after a concerning surge in new cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19. Under the new restrictions, which will remain in effect until at least May 20, residents are only permitted to leave their home for necessities such as getting groceries, health services, exercise, child care or school, or work that cannot be done remotely. Gatherings with anyone outside of our immediate household, except for one other person that lives alone, are not allowed regardless if they are indoors or outside.

The penalty for organizers of an illegal gathering could be a fine of at least $10,000 and each attendee could receive a $750 ticket.

Find the full details of Ontario's current stay-at-home order here.