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In-person church services go ahead in Chilliwack again, in defiance of COVID-19 order

Click to play video: 'Despite enforcement threats, Fraser Valley churches again hold in-person services in violation of provincial health order' Despite enforcement threats, Fraser Valley churches again hold in-person services in violation of provincial health order
Despite enforcement threats, Fraser Valley churches again hold in-person services in violation of provincial health order – Dec 13, 2020

Several Chilliwack churches went ahead again with in-person services in violation of provincial COVID-19 restrictions.

It came after the RCMP announced Saturday that it had recommended charges against three churches that had repeatedly violated an order banning in-person worship.

Read more: RCMP recommend charges against Chilliwack churches that broke COVID-19 restrictions

“On the first two Sundays of the public health order which pertained to in-person congregation, the Chilliwack RCMP took an approach of education and awareness, hoping that we would gain voluntary compliance,” Chilliwack RCMP Sgt. Krista Vrolyk said.

“Last week was the third week and we did have some places of worship that continued to violate the public health order.”

Police have not said which three churches were facing potential charges.

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Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Frustration growing over those in B.C. not obeying health orders' Coronavirus: Frustration growing over those in B.C. not obeying health orders
Coronavirus: Frustration growing over those in B.C. not obeying health orders – Dec 7, 2020

Global News cameras captured worshippers attending services at both the Free Grace Baptist Church and Chilliwack Free Reformed Church in the city, along with Langley’s Riverside Cavalry Church last Sunday.

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This week, worshippers were back at the Free Grace Baptist Church again.

Damien Dupont, who doesn’t normally attend the church came out Sunday because he wanted to support the congregation.

Dupont said that while “every life is important,” the majority of people dying of COVID-19 were over the age of 70 and had co-morbidities.

He said that risk did not justify the restrictions placed on the broader community.

“It’s disproportionately affecting the elderly, and yet we’re locking down society which is causing a whole host of knock-on effects,” he said, pointing to economic and mental health impacts.

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“I think it’s important to support them because I agree with the stance they’re taking and pushing back, and I think it’s necessary that we do that.”

Vrolyk said police would be monitoring the situation again this Sunday.

“Chilliwack RCMP will continue to actively investigate any reports of in-person congregation services that we receive,” she said.

Read more: B.C.’s shuttered churches prompt coronavirus-era theological debate

The province implemented a ban on in-person religious services in November, amid surging new COVID-19 cases.

Health officials have documented transmission of the virus in several worship settings.

But some religious groups have pushed back, arguing the restrictions are an unreasonable infringement of their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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