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Langley business owner frustrated with neighbouring church’s in-person services

A local business owner is expressing frustration with a nearby church which continues to hold in-person services despite COVID-19. Global News

A Langley business owner is raising concerns as a neighbouring church continues to hold in-person services, despite a provincial COVID-19 order banning them.

Dena Fyfe runs a salon next to Langley’s Riverside Calvary Chapel, which she says has held services weekly since the ban was instituted in mid-November.

Click to play video: 'Chilliwack churchgoers defy COVID-19 restrictions days after Mounties issue fines' Chilliwack churchgoers defy COVID-19 restrictions days after Mounties issue fines
Chilliwack churchgoers defy COVID-19 restrictions days after Mounties issue fines – Dec 20, 2020

“They don’t start to wear masks in and out of that building until they know the police are sitting in the parking lot,” she said.

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“I’m watching these people walk in with a lot of children, too. Those children are going to school with my kids, sitting beside them, not wearing a mask. So, yeah, there’s a lot of concerns around this whole thing and it’s so much more than just freedom of religion.”

Read more: Langley, B.C., church fined for violating COVID-19 restrictions

The church was issued a $2,300 fine in November, and Fyfe said after repeated calls to the RCMP, police returned Sunday to issue another fine.

“I’ve been calling them every Sunday after that because they continue to have service and nobody has ever shown up until today, because I actually said to the woman on the phone when I reported it, look, I don’t understand why I keep calling and nobody’s coming,” she said.

Read more: Chilliwack churchgoers defy COVID-19 restrictions days after Mounties issue fines

“It’s a slap in the face to me as a business when my customers have to deliver a COVID waiver, check their temperature, leave their bags in their car, wear a mask for three, four hours at a time … like I almost lost my business this year because of it.”

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Global News has requested comment from both the RCMP and the church.

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In a livestream of one of its in-person services on Sunday, congregants could be seen inside the church without masks.

In a sermon focused on end-times biblical prophecy, a church pastor went on to downplay the effects of COVID-19, and link it to several popular conspiracy theories.

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

“Seek news and information sources that haven’t been corrupted by a scripted government narrative of fear,” he said.

“What I will also say is that COVID-19 has become a very useful, possibly-planned crisis to begin conditioning us for the coming Agenda 2030 and the ‘Great Reset.'”

Read more: ‘Playing with fire’: How politicians can perpetuate baseless conspiracy theories

Agenda 2030 refers to a U.N. global framework Canada has signed aimed at reducing poverty and hunger while improving health care and education globally.

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The “Great Reset” refers to the theme of this year’s Davos meeting of the World Economic Forum: that rebuilding the world’s economy after COVID-19 provides an opportunity for a “for a more fair, sustainable and resilient future,” with a focus on climate change and social justice.

Both have become popular among online conspiracy theorists who argue they are a cover for the creation of a global government by a secret cabal of shadowy elites.

“Outside of my business I can hear them talking, members of the church, talking about how this is all a hoax and this is all just part of communism,” Fyfe said.

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

Several churches in Chilliwack have also continued to defy the ban on in-person services, arguing that they are an unreasonable restriction on the constitutional right to religious freedom.

Some congregants have also told Global News they believe the restrictions are disproportionate to the risk posed by COVID-19.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Some B.C. churches defy public health orders' Coronavirus: Some B.C. churches defy public health orders
Coronavirus: Some B.C. churches defy public health orders – Nov 30, 2020

Both the BC Civil Liberties Association and the Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver have also spoken out against the restrictions.

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Provincial health officials maintain the restrictions are necessary, and say there have been multiple documented cases of COVID-19 transmission in religious settings.

Fyfe said she wants a clear answer from police about how they are approaching enforcement at the church, and why services are allowed to continue when her business must follow COVID-19 protocols.

“It’s almost like they think they’re untouchable at this point because nobody has shown up in five, six weeks,” she said.

“I lose sleep over our protocols and making sure everything’s right now are community safe. And all they have to do is lock their door and the police can’t enter and they can do whatever they want behind those closed doors, right?”

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