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Saskatoon churches split on opening or closing due to COVID-19 risk

Click to play video 'COVID-19: Saskatoon churches facing tough decision' COVID-19: Saskatoon churches facing tough decision
WATCH: Saskatoon churches are split on temporarily closing or remaining open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Scott Moe announced Friday the province won’t allow gatherings of over 250 people after a handful of presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan.

However, faith-based organizations are exempt. Some have decided to remain open while others have closed. It’s a church-by-church decision.

READ MORE: Self-isolation over COVID-19 concerns ends at Fire Station No. 4

Signs reading “temporarily closed due to COVID-19 risk” can be found on the doors of many churches around Saskatoon, including West Portal Church.

Pastor Andrew Klassen said while the decision was difficult to temporarily suspend operations at the church, it is for the well being of roughly 600 members.

“We have a responsibility for the health and well being our people.”

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“We have a responsibility as an active part of our neighbourhood and community and city. We simply wanted to be proactive in being part of finding the solution.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: USask taking more measures to reduce COVID-19 risk

Klassen believes the number of people who attend and their ages play a role if a church wants to remain open, such as Hope Fellowship or St. Patrick Parish.

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He said they will look at creative ways for people to engage through online platforms and smaller group meetings.

“We are just trying to embrace this as an opportunity for us to test and stretch ourselves,” Klassen said.

“If our privilege of being in this building is temporarily suspended.”

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Click to play video 'Saskatchewan activates its pandemic plan following new presumptive cases of COVID-19' Saskatchewan activates its pandemic plan following new presumptive cases of COVID-19
Saskatchewan activates its pandemic plan following new presumptive cases of COVID-19

Klassen believes it’s roughly a 50/50 split around the city for open and closed churches.

He added if things improve the decision will be made to fully open the church on March 27.

Concerned about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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