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COVID-19: Amended B.C. health order allows for outdoor religious gatherings

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
Worshippers were back in at least two Chilliwack churches on Sunday, just days after police announced more than $18,000 in fines to local churches breaking COVID-19 restrictions – Dec 20, 2020

In-person religious gatherings are once again allowed in B.C. but only outdoors.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry relaxed the current health order on Tuesday.

Organizers of outdoor services will still need to have a COVID-19 safety plan in place to ensure everyone follows the rules.

Services are still not allowed to take place inside at this time.

Click to play video: 'Churches considering appeal of court ruling upholding ban on in-person religious services' Churches considering appeal of court ruling upholding ban on in-person religious services
Churches considering appeal of court ruling upholding ban on in-person religious services – Mar 19, 2021

Read more: B.C. churches won’t rule out appeal on ‘surprising’ ruling upholding in-person service ban

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The ban on in-person services has been one of the most contentious issues during the pandemic.

Several churches in B.C. have violated the rules and have been fined, with some even taking the province to court.

The Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church in Abbotsford and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack lost their appeal in B.C. Supreme Court a few weeks ago.

B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson found Henry’s order did infringe on religious rights, but that the infringement was reasonable and proportionate.

The lawyer representing the churches said that banning religious gatherings but allowing pubs and stores to remain open amounts to religious discrimination.

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Growing frustration over church closures in B.C – Feb 17, 2021

Read more: COVID-19 — B.C. Supreme Court upholds provincial ban on in-person religious services

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-with files from Simon Little

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