RCMP and members of Alberta Well being Companies have been on scene at GraceLife Church west of Edmonton Wednesday morning to “bodily shut” the ability as momentary fencing was put up across the constructing.
Police have been on the Spruce Grove church earlier than eight a.m. Crews may very well be seen placing fencing up across the constructing’s perimeter, in addition to blocking a number of parking stalls.
“Alberta Well being Companies bodily closed GraceLife Church and has prevented entry to the constructing till GLC can reveal the power to adjust to Alberta’s chief medical officer of well being’s (CMOH) restrictions,” AHS stated in a press release Wednesday morning.
Does GraceLife Church shutdown sign extra enforcement in Alberta?
Alberta RCMP confirmed officers have been on scene to help with enforcement.
For months, the church has been routinely holding providers that violate COVID-19 restrictions.
Below Alberta’s public well being orders, face masks are necessary and church buildings are restricted to 15 per cent of fireplace code capability.
Well being Minister Tyler Shandro stated with regards to enforcement of the general public well being measures, he and the premier have been clear that an arm’s size company — whether or not that’s AHS or police companies — is accountable.
Shandro stated this specific case dates again to December when AHS began enforcement on the church.
“They did strive with schooling, they did strive it by way of court docket orders.
“The prosecutors, the general public well being inspectors and the police who have been concerned confirmed a large amount of persistence and attempting to work with the group as a primary response to get them to conform,” he stated Wednesday afternoon.
“Clearly we would like to have the ability to work with our religion communities. And I ought to say this too, our religion communities all through this province must be recommended for desirous to deal with the congregations who’re desirous to adjust to the general public well being measures. So this one state of affairs, we’ve got seen quite a lot of recalcitrance over an prolonged time period, and AHS and the police, the RCMP, have felt compelled to take these subsequent steps.”
Over Easter weekend, GraceLife Church’s parking zone was as soon as once more packed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
AHS stated Wednesday that for “a number of months” the well being authority has “tried to work collaboratively with GLC to deal with the continuing public well being issues on the web site.”
In line with AHS, steps taken previous to bodily closing the positioning embody:
- an order issued by AHS on Dec. 17, 2020, requiring GLC to adjust to CMOH restrictions
- a Court docket of Queen’s Bench Order obtained on Jan. 21, 2021, requiring GLC to adjust to the earlier order
- a Closure Order issued on Jan. 29, 2021, requiring closure till compliance with the restrictions was attained
- on March 27, 2021, AHS despatched a letter to the church’s pastor info on the continued unfold of COVID-19
- final week, AHS invited the pastor to satisfy just about to debate the dangers introduced by COVID-19, however the church has not offered any dates to satisfy
“GLC has determined to not observe these necessary restrictions, nor have they tried to work with AHS to scale back the danger of COVID-19 transmission,” AHS stated.
AHS erects fencing round GraceLife Church west of Edmonton
RCMP and AHS inspectors have appeared on the church property a number of occasions throughout providers to make sure public well being measures are being adopted and in earlier weeks, officers have stated “the church didn’t adjust to the restrictions.”
In a information launch Wednesday, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms stated it’s outraged on the authorities’s “determination to enter personal church property early this morning and put up a double barrier wall round GraceLife Church to stop Albertans from exercising their Constitution freedoms of peaceable meeting, affiliation and worship.”
The group stated it plans to problem the constitutionality of Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s well being orders in court docket, “arguing that they’re an unjustified violation of Constitution rights and freedoms.”
On March 28, an AHS spokesperson stated environmental public well being inspectors have been denied entry to the church, whereas noting what “gave the impression to be breaches of the present CMOH (chief medical officer of well being) restrictions associated to capability, bodily distancing and masking.”
The church, together with its pastor James Coates, are set to seem in court docket in Might. They’re charged with violating measures underneath the Public Well being Act associated to capability limits, bodily distancing and masking.
Coates was launched from jail on March 22 after he breached a bail situation to cease holding providers that didn’t observe laws. He pleaded guilty and was fined $1,500.
AHS stated between July 10, 2020, and April 6, 2021, AHS has obtained 105 complaints from the general public about GraceLife Church. AHS inspectors have performed 18 inspections on the web site since July 10 and “violations have been noticed at every go to,” AHS stated.
In a information launch despatched Wednesday, the Justice Centre, which is representing Coates, stated it’s “within the technique of submitting a subpoena to require Alberta chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw to testify on the trial of Pastor Coates on Might 3, 2021.”
COVID-19 instances are on the rise in Alberta and AHS stated there may be an pressing want to reduce unfold to guard all Albertans.
The church closure comes in the future after Premier Jason Kenney announced additional restrictions to help curb the third wave of COVID-19 in Alberta.
— with information from Morgan Black, International Information and The Canadian Press.
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