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Petition calls for B.C. to loosen gathering restrictions for churches

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Summary

Online petition is calling for B.C. to relax some rules around gathering for churches amid COVID-19

Petition says churches have had 'good track record' when it comes to following COVID-19 protocols

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – An online petition is calling on Premier John Horgan to loosen some of the COVID-19 rules as applied to churches.

The online posting calls the current rules confusing, and says many churches have a good track record in following existing protocols over the last seven months.

“…It seems unfair to allow businesses and other commercial services to continue in their operations at the present moment but not church communities,” the petition reads.

It goes on to say it seems unfair to allow businesses and other commercial services to continue operating, while applying restrictions to churches.

As of Thursday morning, more than 1,000 people had signed the online petition.

“As we appreciate what our government leaders are doing to help all British Columbians during this worldwide pandemic of Covid 19 (sic), we know that there are all kinds of gatherings that make the present Provincial Order to ban church services with congregations confusing,” the petition reads.

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“Although it is true that we can pray through online services, Roman Catholics must gather in person in order to receive Holy Communion while other religions also have rites which must be done in person safely that the online experience cannot replace.”

Some churches in the Fraser Valley have indicated they plan to defy provincial orders on gatherings again this weekend.

This comes after a Langley church was fined for violating orders last month and after some pastors claimed shutdown orders violate their Charter rights.

A lawyer has said Charter rights can be — and often are — subject to limits, something laid out in Section 1, and that protections under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are neither simple nor sweeping.