‘Rejoicing’: Easing of worship restrictions welcomed by Sask. faith communities

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Easing of worship restrictions welcomed by Sask. faith communities
WATCH: Restrictions on capacity during worship services in Saskatchewan were eased Sunday, with some wasting no time taking advantage of the loosened limitations – May 30, 2021

Capacity limitations for worship services in Saskatchewan are being eased thanks to the launch of the first phase of Saskatchewan’s new reopening plan.

Worship services across the province have been limited to a maximum of thirty people or 30 per cent of building capacity, whichever is less, since mid-April. Those restrictions have been in place in Regina since June 2020.

With Step One of the Reopening Roadmap officially underway, worship services across the province can now welcome up to 150 people or 30 per cent of capacity, whichever is less, as long as physical distancing between households is still possible.

Read more: COVID-19: Step 1 of Saskatchewan’s reopening roadmap comes into effect

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Holy Rosary Cathedral in Regina welcomed about 60 people Sunday for their 11 a.m. mass, which would be double the number they could welcome under the previous restrictions.

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Parishioner Arlene Cornish had been going to Sunday service nearly every Sunday for 45 years before the pandemic. Since it began, she’s been attending biweekly to allow room for others to attend in-person.

“It’s been a big absence in our lives, missing the community,” Cornish said.

“It was nice to look around at the time we give each other, the greeting of peace, and see familiar faces and some faces that you just haven’t seen for a long while. We’re rejoicing!”

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Other faith communities, meanwhile, won’t see such immediate benefit from the restriction relaxation.

“At the moment I think we have to be very careful and not let our guards down,” said Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Regina President Dr. Habib Rehman.

With a building capacity of less than 90, the mosque isn’t able to welcome any more guests under the new rules than it was able to previously. And, with worship service restrictions set to remain unchanged in Step 2 of the province’s reopening plan, it’s likely that the community’s members, which total around 100, will have to wait until July at the earliest to gather like normal.

Rehman says daily prayer ceremonies have been moved mostly online, and the mosque hasn’t hosted more than around 20 people all year.

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“We are a very close knit community and we used to meet on an almost daily basis,” Rehman said.

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