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Chilliwack RCMP recommends charges against three churches holding in-person services

Last Updated Dec 12, 2020 at 12:56 pm PST

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Summary

At least three churches in Chilliwack are now facing possible criminal charges for violating COVID orders

This is a legal step above handing out enforcement fines

RCMP in Chilliwack says the three churches facing possible charges have continued to host in-person services

CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) — Charges may be laid after three churches in Chilliwack held in-person services last Sunday, defying a public health order banning in-person religious gatherings.

Chilliwack RCMP say it’s forwarding a report to the BC Prosecution Service for charge assessment of violations after an investigation.

“The current B.C. Public Health Order provides police the ability to proceed with enforcement action in the form of issuing violation tickets or by recommending charges to BC Prosecution Service in relation to offences against the Covid-19 Related Measures Act,” says Sergeant Krista Vrolyk in a release to NEWS 1130.

The detachment has so far not issued fines to churches and at this point, it’s not clear what exact charges the church or church leaders could be facing.

“We want to acknowledge that the vast majority of people in our community are complying with the public health orders,” Vrolyk says. “Despite efforts by the Chilliwack RCMP on the first two Sundays to educate and gain voluntary compliance. A small number of continue to hold in-person services in direct contravention of the public health order.”

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Vrolyk says Mounties will be keeping a close watch on churches in the city this Sunday.

“We will continue to actively investigate all ports at all reports of in-person congregation service. We’re going to continue to work in partnership with the provincial health authorities and BC Prosecution Service to navigate enforcement of this order,” she adds.

A church in Langley was given a $2,300 fine two weeks ago for holding in-person services.