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B.C. to allow small outdoor religious services, in midst of COVID-19 pandemic

Last Updated Mar 15, 2021 at 4:37 pm PDT

File: Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on COVID-19 on Nov. 16, 2020. (Courtesy Government of B.C./Flikr)

Dr. Bonnie Henry says small outdoor religious services will be allowed in time for Passover, Easter

Phased re-opening of indoor services in the works

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Some outdoor religious services will soon be allowed in B.C.,

“We will be providing a class variance to allow outdoor religious services in small numbers in the coming days,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said, adding they are also working on a “class variance” for Passover and Easter.

On Monday, she did not provide a specific date for an adjustment in the provincial health order. More details are expected this week.

“We are working on advice through the process … on how we can have a workable approach to the gradual and safe phased re-opening of ongoing indoor services for faith groups across the province for all faith services, starting in April,” she added.

Henry says faith leaders in B.C. have generally been understanding of the risks of holding services during the pandemic.

“I’ve heard this from many faith leaders they understand that we’re still in a very precarious situation,” she said. “Some communities, absolutely, are not yet ready to have in person services. And some communities, it can be done perfectly safely so these are the things that we are putting in place with their advice.”

Henry says she understands Easter is extremely important to Christians, as is Passover to those of the Jewish faith.

“So we’ve been consulting through this process to, to see how we can have some limited in person gatherings for those very important celebrations and do that safely,” she said.

“I’ve heard from the leaders in those communities that some, some churches or synagogues are finding other ways to have those services. But for some, it will be very important to have some limited indoor access for those important celebrations and we’re looking at how we can do that.”

Over the weekend, B.C. recorded 1,506 new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 88,373.

There were 10 additional deaths in the past three days. There have been a total 1,407 COVID-19 related deaths in B.C.