A CityNews camera operator was kicked out of Yonge-Dundas Square on Saturday by a police officer and told they were “not essential” while gathering footage of the police presence in the square.
Over the past several months, anti-lockdown protests have been held in the square on Saturdays. Last week, there was a heavy police presence due to the stay-at-home order which resulted in the arrest of the organizer and two others.
One of our CityNews’ camera operators was gathering footage of the police presence today in anticipation of gatherings that exceed the province’s five-person limit when he was told he had to leave the square.
The police officer said, “Media at this point in time is not an essential service in the square so we can’t have you come and gather and stay for a while and loiter unless it’s for an essential reason.”
When asked when media was declared not an essential service, the police officer responded, “I can’t tell you the exact date when that started or anything like that I’m just telling you the information I’m provided and that I’m acting on today.”
The camera operator was told they would be given a ticket and fined if they did not leave the square. The camera operator left shortly after the interaction.
CityNews contacted the Toronto Police Service and they confirmed news personnel are considered essential workers.
Const. Rob Reid confirmed media are allowed to attend the square provided they follow proper pandemic protocols (PPE, social distancing) and officers on the ground were being notified that they cannot limit media.
The camera operator was wearing a mask and was not within six feet of anyone until the police officer approached.
Reid also told CityNews our news station was not the first to call with this kind of concern.