Chilliwack Free Reformed Church on Yale Road (seen on Dec. 1, 2020), along with Free Grace Baptist Church, held in-person services despite the Nov. 19 public health order banning indoor gatherings. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Chilliwack Free Reformed Church on Yale Road (seen on Dec. 1, 2020), along with Free Grace Baptist Church, held in-person services despite the Nov. 19 public health order banning indoor gatherings. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

B.C. allows up to 4 indoor religious services from March 28-May 13

Temporary easing with Easter, Passover, Ramadan coming up

B.C. public health rules are being relaxed on a trial basis from March 28 to May 13 to allow indoor religious services for the important holidays coming up.

A public health variance order issued March 25 allows for indoor worship services on four days during that period, requiring physical distance and masks, and limiting attendance to 50 people or 10 per cent of the space capacity, whichever is less. People must pre-registered with a phone number or email address to allow for controlling attendance and contact tracing.

People attending are required to complete a health check first. Weddings, baptisms and indoor funerals are still off limits. A soloist may sing but no choirs are permitted.

“We are hopeful that this one-time indoor variance can be extended after the end of the trial period that we have until May 13,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said. “But of course it’s based on the pandemic and the epidemiological situation that we’re seeing here in B.C.”

Easter 2021 begins with Good Friday on April 2 and Easter Sunday April 4. The Jewish tradition of Passover begins on the evening of Friday, March 27 and ends on the evening of April 4. The Muslim tradition of Ramadan begins April 13 and lasts 30 days.

Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan have repeatedly held conference calls with faith leaders around the province to seek their support for the year-long series of public health orders on indoor gatherings. A group of Fraser Valley churches took the province to B.C. Supreme Court, where Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson upheld the public health orders March 19.

RELATED: Judge dismisses churches’ petition against COVID-19 rules

RELATED: Langley church fined twice for no-mask indoor services

Henry said the timing of the temporary variance order is to coincide with important dates.

“That was selected with careful consideration of the very important upcoming holidays across different faith communities across the province,” Henry said. “It comes agains the backdrop of increasing case counts. And if conditions require us to revisit this, we will do so in consultation, again, and I am very appreciative that faith leaders have expressed that we all have that common goal of keeping people safe through this very challenging year.

“We take no pleasure, of course, in limiting any of the religious communities’ practices, and we want this to be a success. We want to make sure we are protecting those most vulnerable.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Just Posted

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation planning ground analysis of land near former residential school

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Free boxes of fresh produce are currently being provided in Quesnel by the Canadian Mental Health Association of Northern BC thanks to a donation from West Fraser Mills. (File photo)
Fresh produce available for those in need in Quesnel

Donation allows Canadian Mental Health Association to provide free fruits and veggies

Elizabeth Pete is a survivor of St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
WATCH: Kamloops bound convoy greeted by Canim Lake Band along Highway 97

Well over two dozen members of the Tsq’escenemc people (Canim Lake Band) showed up

Five rehabilitated grizzly bears were released this month into the Bella Coola area. The Northern Lights Wildlife Society will also be delivering 36 black bears to areas across the province where they were previously found. “They’re ready to go and they’re already trying to get out,” says Angelika Langen. “We feel good when we can make that possible and they don’t have to stay behind fences for the rest of their lives.” (Northern Lights Wildlife Society Facebook photo)
At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Condolences pour in for Kathy Richardson, Naramata’s 3rd homicide victim in recent weeks

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More than 75% of B.C. adults have 1st dose of COVID vaccine

The federal government has confirmed a boost in the Moderna vaccine will be coming later this month

Most Read