The lawyer for a trio of Fraser Valley churches battling the province in court over the ban told Global News they’ve now been given the green light to meet for worship — so long as they do it outdoors, and implement multiple protocols.
“The churches are no longer prohibited completely from in-person worship services, but certain conditions are being imposed,” lawyer Paul Jaffe, who represents the Riverside Calvary Chapel, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack, among multiple other clients in the legal challenge.
“We’re grateful that Dr. Henry has finally taken a look at the circumstances of my clients.”
Restrictions include a maximum of 25 congregants, a ban on singing or chanting and a ban on passing collection plates or ceremonial objects, a one-hour time limit and mandatory masks. They’re also not allowed to socialize before or after the service.
It comes after the province unsuccessfully sought an injunction giving police more powers to shut down services that were flouting the health order. Jaffe and his clients’ claims that the ban violates their charter rights are set to be tested in court in March.
The churches are not the only ones to receive an exemption. The Ministry of Health confirms it has also granted exceptions to Orthodox Jewish groups who are prohibited by their faith from using electronic devices.
“We recognize some faiths can not meet virtually,” a ministry spokesperson said in an email. “In this case, the synagogue observes traditional Jewish law which prohibits the use of electronic devices, including computers, on the Sabbath and on Purim. In-person services were the only option.”
The services may go ahead, provided they follow restrictions, including a cap of 25 participants, mandatory mask-wearing, physical distancing and a one-hour limit on the proceedings.View link »