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Edmonton-area church welcomes members Sunday despite COVID-19 closure order from AHS

Click to play video: 'Edmonton-area church defies AHS closure order by welcoming members for Sunday service' Edmonton-area church defies AHS closure order by welcoming members for Sunday service
WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton-area church ordered to close by Alberta Health Services instead welcomed its members for Sunday service. As Chris Chacon reports the order was issued after the church repeatedly broke COVID-19 rules – Feb 12, 2021

A church near Edmonton that was ordered to close by Alberta Health Services after repeatedly breaking COVID-19 rules still welcomed members into the building on Sunday.

GraceLife Church Of Edmonton is located just outside the city limits on Highway 627 in Parkland County.

A Global News crew on the scene Sunday saw people entering the church without masks and not social distancing.

Despite requests from Global News, the church did not provide comment.

The church was ordered closed Friday after repeatedly breaking rules.

Prior to that order, Alberta Health Services also issued a work order on Dec. 17 that said the church had to “immediately” ensure congregants were wearing face coverings when in the building, ensure members of different households keep at least two metres apart, provide AHS with information about the building’s capacity and to not exceed the limit of 15 per cent of total capacity at any one time.

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Read more: Rural church near Edmonton ordered to close for breaking COVID-19 rules after December warning

The order also requested the church outline a plan for relaunch including details on how it would keep its members safe.

AHS said Friday it has not yet received a plan. A representative from AHS told Global News this weekend there would be no official comment on the situation Sunday.

While Friday’s closure order specifically noted that access should be halted for congregants, members or attendees, the church posted a notice on its website that says it is open “only” to members of GraceLife Church and “regular adherents.”

Click to play video: 'Calgary church facing fines for possible public health order violations' Calgary church facing fines for possible public health order violations
Calgary church facing fines for possible public health order violations – Jan 10, 2021

Read more: COVID-19: AHS inspection finds Edmonton-area church broke numerous public health rules

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The RCMP issued a $1,200 ticket on Friday to Pastor James Coates under Section 73.1 of the Public Health Act, which Parkland RCMP Const. Shelley Nasheim said the church has until March 25 to pay.

An RCMP vehicle was visible on the scene Sunday. RCMP previously told Global News its role on the scene is to observe and ensure a peaceful interaction as it is not the lead agency on the investigation.

Churches in Alberta are currently under restrictions that mean they can operate at 15 per cent of capacity, with proper distancing and mask rules.

Alberta added 383 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday.

–with files from Karen Bartko, Global News

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