BARRIE, ONT. -- Barrie's police chief urges residents to stay home and avoid participating in an anti-lockdown protest planned for Saturday in the Sadlon Arena parking lot.

"This event is unlawful and irresponsible and is definitely not supported by the Barrie Police Service, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and the City of Barrie," Chief Kimberley Greenwood said in a pre-recorded video posted to YouTube.

The protests bring hundreds of people together, many not wearing face masks or social distancing as per provincial requirements.

Anti-lockdown demonstrations had been occurring on Saturdays at Meridian Place until the city installed fencing to deter the large crowds. In response, the organizer moved the event to Centennial Park.

Barrie police officers have handed out dozens of tickets to individuals in attendance.

"Follow the health care guidelines and stay at home," Greenwood added. "Do not attend these unlawful and irresponsible gatherings."

Barrie's mayor has said the city would explore "all available actions to stop these gatherings, including possible court action for an injunction to restrain the organizers."

Organized and public events and large crowds are not permitted under the provincial stay-at-home order that remains in place until at least May 20.

Failure to follow an order could result in a $750 fine and possibly a $1,000 fine for preventing others from following an order.