OTTAWA -- Mayor Jim Watson is urging everyone planning to participate in Friday’s “No Peace Until Justice” demonstration to practice physical distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA’s “Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts” that everyone should do “their very best” to practice physical distancing and wear a mask during the rally to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“As politicians you’re sort of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you don’t go, you don’t care. If you do go, you’re just there for a photo-op,” Watson said Wednesday when asked about attending a rally during a global pandemic.

“I thought it was important for me to attend.”

Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s The Morning Rush, Dr. Barry Dworkin expressed concerns with politicians and the public attending a mass gathering during the pandemic.

“We’re basically just going to blow the entire three months that we have made the effort to physically distance out the window,” said Dr. Dworkin Wednesday morning.

“I certainly hope I’m wrong … the adage that ‘you don’t do the same things over and over again, expecting a different result.’ It’s going to be the same result at the end of this.”

Watson says Ottawa Public Health and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches have been stressing the importance of physical distancing, and wearing masks if you are unable to stay two metres from others.

“The reality is that it’s a long distance, and if people do not crowd-in and stay back, respect that two metre distance, it can be done safely,” said Watson.

“When the organizers invited me, they indicated right up front that they were going to be respecting social and physical distancing, and asking people to wear masks. At least they’re thinking of this as a possible challenge and also a solution.”

Friday’s “No Peace Until Justice” march is set for Friday at 3:30 p.m. at the U.S. Embassy on Sussex Drive.