COVID-19: Calgary police arrest 2 church service organizers for violating new court order

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Calgary police arrested and charged brothers Artur Pawlowski and Dawid Pawlowski for organizing an illegal in-person gathering on Saturday during the COVID-19 pandemic – May 8, 2021

Calgary police arrested two people on Saturday who officers said were in violation of a new court order obtained by Alberta Health Services that enforces “mandatory compliance of public health orders for gatherings” as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

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AHS obtained the Court of Queen’s Bench Order — which applies to gatherings including protests, demonstrations and rallies — on Thursday.

“This order imposes new restrictions on organizers of protests and demonstrations requiring compliance with public health orders including masking, physical distancing and attendance limits,” police said.

Read more: ‘Caring for others’: Mosque, synagogue advise Alberta church to follow COVID 19 rules

On Saturday, police said they enforced the order by serving it to organizers before a church service to ensure that attendees would follow public health orders.

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“The service organizer acknowledged the injunction but chose to ignore requirements for social distancing, mask-wearing and reduced capacity limits for attendees, and continued with the event,” police explained in a news release.

Pawlowski brothers arrested

Officers arrested and charged brothers Artur Pawlowski and Dawid Pawlowski with organizing an illegal in-person gathering — including requesting, inciting or inviting others to attend an illegal public gathering —  and promoting and attending an illegal public gathering.

Read more: Police visit, leave Calgary church that was allegedly not following COVID-19 restrictions

In a video posted to Artur’s Facebook page, the pair are pulled over and officers approach the vehicle’s windows.

“It looks like the police is catching us after the church service,” he says.

Officers explain they are under arrest for the AHS injunction and ask them to get out of the car.

After asking for officer names and badge numbers, both men are handcuffed kneeling on the road.

‘We all must comply’

Police said it recognizes people’s desire to participate in faith-based gatherings and the right to protest, but “as we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, we all must comply with public health orders in order to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being.”

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“We continue to ask those who may be considering organizing or participating in any outdoor events to ensure they are familiar with public health order requirements and to do their part to prevent further spread of the virus,” police said.

As of May 5, faith service attendance limits in Alberta depend on how many active cases of COVID-19 are in the area. Areas with high case counts are limited to a 15-person limit. Areas with lower cases are limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy for in-person attendance.

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Police did not name the church they attended but Artur has been linked to Street Church, located at 4315 26 Ave. S.E., also known as the Fortress (Cave) of Adullam.

This isn’t the first time the church has flouted COVID-19 restrictions.

Officers visited Street Church on April 4, and AHS issued a public health order on April 30, which named Artur, citing unmasked attendees, overcapacity and no distancing.

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