Alberta RCMP furthering investigation because GraceLife Church is still breaking COVID-19 rules

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
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

Parkland RCMP and Alberta Health Services said Sunday that officials have found GraceLife Church near Edmonton breaking COVID-19 rules yet again.

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

The church, which is located west of city limits on Highway 627 in Parkland County, was instructed to follow public health orders, which include restrictions like a 15 per cent capacity and physical distancing.

RCMP said Sunday that “the church did not comply with the restrictions,” so they are now furthering their investigation into the church and pastor James Coates.

“To be very clear, the RCMP’s objective is not to interrupt church services, prohibit services, nor deny peoples’ right to practice their religion — merely to ensure that public health restrictions are adhered to while doing so,” said Insp. Mike Lokken in a news release.

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

Police said they expect to release more details on the investigation mid-week.

The church has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons since mid-December, when police issued Coates a $1,200 violation ticket.

Read more: Alberta at standoff with Edmonton-area church over COVID rules; Dr. Hinshaw says she can’t intervene

AHS then ordered the church to close on Jan. 29.

On Feb. 7, police and AHS visited the church only to find that the facility was over double the restricted capacity. RCMP noted at the time: “As a matter of respect, the church proceedings were not interrupted by the RCMP, and Coates was co-operative with the RCMP following the end of the service.”

Police said they arrested and released Coates with a court date, and on Feb. 8, they formally swore charges dealing with contravention of the Public Health Act for being over capacity and failing to adhere to physical distancing requirements.

Read more: Edmonton-area pastor arrested, charged after repeatedly ignoring COVID-19 rules

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Global News has reached out to GraceLife Church and will update this story if a response is received.

In a statement on its website, GraceLife Church says: “We are gravely concerned that COVID-19 is being used to fundamentally alter society and strip us all of our civil liberties. By the time the so-called ‘pandemic’ is over, if it is ever permitted to be over, Albertans will be utterly reliant on government, instead of free, prosperous and independent.”

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