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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Black Crow Cannabis is just one of Vernon's many pot shops now open in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Kelowna has highest cannabis fees in Okanagan

Vernon’s 14 stores pay second highest business licence fees

The Columbia Valley Wetlands are known for their extensive and fragile ecosystem. (File photo)
Wildsight speaks out against logging in Columbia Wetlands

Located 50 kms south of Golden, the proposed operation was justified as bark beetle management

Residents, especially those with yards with long grass and wooded areas, are encouraged to check themselves and their pets for ticks after being outside. Ticks have reportedly been found in Golden near the pump track. File photo
Ticks found in Golden as spring approaches

Between five and 10 people each year go to hospital in Golden for ticks

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A North Okanagan man in his late 20s was flown to hospital by air ambulance Saturday, April 17, shortly after 6:30 p.m. after allegedly crashing on his longboard on a Spallumcheen roadway. (File photo)
Suspected longboard crash in Okanagan sends individual to hospital via air ambulance

Accident involved a North Okanagan man in his late 20s on Otter Lake Road in Spallumcheen

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A Kelowna Pride Festival 2019 participant holds up a flag. (Kelowna Pride Society)
Kelowna Pride, RCMP continue to work on ‘Safe Place Program’

A new committee has been formed to refine the ‘Safe Place Program’ created by the Kelowna RCMP

Coldstream Fire Department crews stationed at Kal Lake Provincial Park parking lot on Cosens Bay Road on Sunday, April 18, after a car went over a cliff in the area. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Driver escapes after car goes over North Okanagan cliff

The driver has been transported to hospital with unspecified injuries

A strange odour at a West Kelowna apartment building prompted the evacuation of 150 residents on Sunday morning, April 18. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Strange smell at West Kelowna apartment prompts evacuation of 150 residents, pets

150 residents ordered evacuated from a West Kelowna apartment building early Sunday morning

Vernon Vipers goalie Roan Clarke celebrates his team’s 3-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play shootout win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Saturday, April 17, at Kal Tire Place. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)
Vernon Vipers use shootout to subdue Salmon Arm

Snakes score 3-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play win at Kal Tire Place

This is what’s left of a truck that caught fire at Pyramid Provincial Park off Highway 97 near Summerland Saturday night. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Photo Gallery: Truck gutted by fire at popular Okanagan park, trees saved

Just a metal shell of what once was a pick up truck is left at the scene

Most Read