CALGARY — Days after being encouraged by their church leader to defy public health orders, dozens of Calgarians did just that as they gathered in front of police and Alberta Health Services (AHS) on Sunday.
It’s the second time Fairview Baptist Church has refused to follow provincial rules around masking and social distancing.
Dozens of police and peace officers joined AHS at the southeast church, but that wasn’t enough to deter worshippers.
After a heated discussion with officials outside, the church leader went into the building and held an 11 a.m. service. Dozens attended, many not wearing masks and seen shaking hands and hugging.
One officer on scene told CTV News they were there to support AHS.
Once the service was over, the church’s pastor Tim Stephens said police officers and AHS inspectors went inside to “take measurements” but did not issue any more fines.
As the service was held inside, outside, questions still linger around power of entry and enforcement techniques.
Fairview Baptist Church was hit with a $1,200 fine last week for numerous violations. The AHS executive order claims “only two of approximately 75 attendees were wearing masks” during the service.
In a statement, AHS says it is aware that some Albertans are “actively disobeying” the COVID-19 rules set out by the chief medical officer of health.
“At this time, faith services are permitted to operate under the current public health restrictions but are limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy for in-person attendance, along with other safety measures. As such, all businesses are required to respect and follow the orders of Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, at all times. Businesses, including places of worship that don’t follow the orders are at risk of closure orders or fines.”
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