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Chilliwack RCMP issue $18,000 in fines to churches breaking COVID-19 restrictions

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
WATCH: Despite enforcement threats, Fraser Valley churches again hold in-person services in violation of provincial health order. – Dec 13, 2020

The Chilliwack RCMP says it has issued fines amounting to $18,400 to three Chilliwack churches that violated COVID-19 restrictions.

The province banned in-person religious services in November as part of a suite of new measures intended to curb surging coronavirus case numbers.

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

A number of religious institutions in the province have protested the measures, which they say violate their constitutional rights. Several churches in the Fraser Valley have continued with services.

The RCMP said three churches have been charged with eight violations of the health order relating to incidents on Dec. 6 and Dec. 13, but is not identifying which institutions they are.

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Global News cameras captured worshippers attending services at both the Free Grace Baptist Church and Chilliwack Free Reformed Church in recent weeks.

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READ MORE: Northern Alberta prayer event linked to over a dozen positive COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Last Sunday, worshiper Damien Dupont at the Free Grace Baptist Church told Global News that while “every life is important,” the majority of people dying of COVID-19 were over the age of 70 and had co-morbidities.

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

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.

READ MORE: Church elder ‘shocked’ by COVID-19 outbreak at his Kelowna church

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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.”

Provincial health officials say they have documented COVID-19 transmission in several religious settings around the province.

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