Toronto

Toronto-area anti-masker charged with breaking quarantine law

One of Ontario's most vocal critics of health measures meant to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic has been charged with violating the federal Quarantine Act, police say.

Chris Saccoccia and wife charged under federal Quarantine Act

Chris Saccoccia, seen here during a protest against mandatory mask measures on the Toronto transit system, has been charged with violating the federal Quarantine Act, police say. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

One of Ontario's most vocal critics of health measures meant to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic has been charged with violating the federal Quarantine Act, police say.

Chris Saccoccia, 37, of King City, Ont., has been charged with failing to comply with an order under the act, Toronto police said Tuesday.

His wife was also charged, according to a news release.

The charges come after both broke federally imposed travel quarantines to appear at anti-lockdown rallies in downtown Toronto for two weekends in a row after travelling to Europe.

Social media posts show that Saccoccia, who also goes by "Chris Sky," spoke at an anti-lockdown rally in Ireland on Sept. 12. A post on his Facebook page indicated he landed back in Canada on Sept. 20.

Police first ticketed Saccoccia on Sept. 26, when he was seen in Toronto, in the area of Yonge and Dundas streets, during a protest against mask wearing and lockdowns.

According to a police news release, Saccoccia and his wife went to another rally in the area last Saturday, which was "attended by 500 non-mask wearing participants."

Police say they charged both on Monday, and served them with an appearance notice.

They are scheduled to appear in a virtual court hearing on Nov. 12.

The federal government has said anyone arriving from outside the country must quarantine for 14 days, and provide contact information to authorities and monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19.

"Those in violation may face transfer to a quarantine facility as well as fines and/or imprisonment," according to the government's website.

Protests against COVID-19 lockdown measures have taken place in downtown Toronto over the last two weekends. (Toronto Police Operations/Twitter)

Plans to file challenge

In a message to CBC News, Saccoccia said he "fully support[s] the police who I am certain were carrying out an order contrary to their beliefs.

"We pray for their well being and safety. And honour their integrity," he said.

He also said he is looking forward to filing a challenge, arguing no law can be made in violation of charter rights.

"And even under extreme, emergency situations, justification to violate our rights must be presented," he said.

Saccoccia has consistently shown contempt for public health measures over the last several months, and rallied people to not follow them. His social media posts are rife with conspiracy theories and misinformation.

He helped organize both a protest against mandatory mask wearing on the city's transit system back in July, and weekly demonstrations against COVID-19 restrictions outside the provincial legislature.  

Saccoccia also helped distribute bogus "exemption cards" in an attempt to get around emergency bylaws Toronto has enacted requiring face coverings in indoor public spaces.  

He has also hosted outdoor parties that flout physical distancing rules. Toronto police said its professional standards unit was investigating after a police-branded Instagram account posted a photo of two officers with Saccoccia in August. Police said last week that investigation is ongoing.

About the Author

Adam Carter

Reporter

Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.

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