Ford lifts COVID-19 restrictions for London, Ont. vigil, calling attack an act of terrorism

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TORONTO —
Ontario is temporarily lifting COVID-19 restrictions to allow a grieving community in London, Ont. to gather at a vigil this evening for a Muslim family killed Sunday night in what Premier Doug Ford called a “terrorist attack”.

“This is nothing short of a terrorist attack on innocent people based on their faith and their religion and there is no place for that in Ontario,” Ford said on Tuesday morning. “We are a community that sticks together and we will be united behind the Muslim community.

The local medical officers of health supported the premier’s proposal on Tuesday for a special regulation change that will allow for a large outdoor gathering in London, Ont. The regulation is still being crafted. There will be no capacity limits, as long as attendees can stand two-metres apart.

Currently, outdoor gatherings are capped at 10 people. This will be a special exception.

“We stand behind you. We support you will stand shoulder to shoulder, because this can never ever happen again in our great province, in our great country,” Ford said in a short statement to the media.

Ford is expected to attend a vigil at the London Muslim Mosque parking lot at 7 p.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will also be in attendance.

The event will be socially distanced.

Police have charged Nathaniel Veltman, 20, of London, with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder after allegedly hitting five pedestrians because of their Islamic faith. Four members of the same family were killed.

During a news conference Monday, London police saidthere was evidence that the incident was hate-motivated.

A grandmother, husband, wife and their teenage daughter were killed. A nine-year-old boy is recovering in hospital from serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

The province announced that all government events will be cancelled on Tuesday to give the family and community space to grieve.