The province of British Columbia has announced that they are extending their pandemic restrictions “indefinitely,” with all churches prohibited from gathering for services under threats of crushing fines and jail time.
The province, which has a population of 5.1 million people and has had 1259 COVID-19 related deaths, all but 65 that occurred in nursing homes, made the announcement on Friday, after passing a midnight deadline.
“Right now, we need to stay the path,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, the woman in charge who is controlling policy. “We need to protect the progress we have made and not squander our progress.”
In BC, all non-essential gatherings have been prohibited for months, as well as any interaction or social gathering with anyone not within a “core bubble” that may only include a maximum of two people from one other household. Bars are allowed to be open, as well as dine-in restaurants.
For churches though – not a chance. The province has banned all church gatherings and has been aggressively ticketing and fining those who seek to gather. Weddings, funerals, and baptisms are permitted with a maximum of 10 people, so long as they don’t include a reception.
Doctor Henry further stated that it was only when she saw a “diminished impact from the virus” that discussions could begin over when that timeframe might be to re-open. She warned there are no guarantees, and in fact, things may get more regressive and restrive if they continue to see COVID-19 variants emerge.
I will be continuously reviewing the data that we have to see if we can do it earlier. But I want people to start thinking: It’s not going to be, ‘Yay, we’re out of this, we’re back to normal.’ It’s going to be, ‘Can we slowly and thoughtfully find an increase in those social connections that we all really want?’
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