Coronavirus: All in-person services in B.C. places of worship suspended

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Coronavirus: In-person gatherings at places of worship banned in B.C.
Religious leaders are once again having to close their doors. But they fear it comes at the cost of people's spiritual well being. John Hua has that part of the story. – Nov 19, 2020

Effective immediately, in-person services in all B.C. places of worship are suspended due to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the province.

At her Thursday briefing, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there will be an exception for weddings, funerals and baptisms, but only 10 people will be allowed to be in attendance.

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Social gatherings and in-person worship suspended in B.C.

There is a ban on receptions and gatherings before and after these events.

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These restrictions will be in place for the next two weeks.

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B.C. expands COVID-19 restrictions to masks, non-essential travel, mixing households

Read more: B.C. reports 765 new COVID-19 cases, one new death

Meetings at the facilities, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, substance use recovery meetings and after-school care, can continue with COVID-19 safety plans in place and followed, Henry clarified.

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In-person religious services were suspended back in March at the beginning of the pandemic

“Like most churches, we’ve all had to find ways to pivot and adapt and be a church to our community,” Landry McAllister, an associate pastor from Cariboo Road Christian Fellowship told Global News.

“So back in March we cancelled all the services and had to go online, so we had to make a pivot there, get all the cameras, all the lights, to keep making sure we were reaching our own community and providing a church for them.

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He said the church reopened in the summer under provincial health guidelines of a maximum of 50 people allowed inside a facility with proper social distancing.

McAllister said the church used to have upwards of 400 people attend services on Sundays before the pandemic.

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“I think it’s tough for everyone. We want to reach out to people and care for people more. This is going to limit us for sure.”

“But we’re going to find new ways though. We’re going to trust the government. We want this to be over like everyone else does.”

At Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib Sikh Temple in Surrey, Narinder Singh Walia said they currently never have more than 50 people in attendance at any service or gathering.

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“We encourage people to wear masks and ask people to sanitize their hands and we sanitize the building,” he said.

Read more: B.C. to require masks in indoor, public places and extend ban on social gatherings province-wide

They have a lot of services that take place at the temple, including funerals and community programs.

They have continued to serve 84,000 people throughout the pandemic, Walia said, many coming to their food program. At least 10 to 15 people come to the temple every day to prepare food to be given out to those in need.

“How can we serve the people,” he asked. “That’s our main concern.”

“In hard times, people need spiritual guidance. When people are in pain they need more spiritual help.”

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