Okanagan church gathering attracts RCMP attention | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan church gathering attracts RCMP attention

While there have yet to be reports of large church services contravening public health orders in the Okanagan, the region does not have a completely unblemished record.

On Dec. 6, just before 11 a.m., Kelowna RCMP were called to a report of an in-person service at a church in 1600 block of Harvey Avenue, in contravention to the most recent Gatherings and Events Order by the Public Health Officer.

“When officers arrived they observed several people in attendance who were not wearing masks or social distancing,” an RCMP email said. The exact number of people isn’t known.

“Officers spoke at length with a leader to ensure there was a clear understanding of the updated regulations, and no fines were issued.”

The Kelowna RCMP is working with Interior Health to determine the appropriate next steps.

Church services won't likely resume until sometime in 2021, which means those who belong to a faith that historically includes Christmas services will be seeking out a new way forward.

B.C.’s top doctor has acknowledged the current health orders are a strain on everyone but for the most part, faith leaders have strongly supported restrictions preventing in-person services.

Last Monday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed news that several churches in Langley and Chilliwack held in-person services over the last two weeks, defying an order prohibiting all community and social gatherings, noting they are the exception, not the rule.

“Most people are doing the right thing,” she said. “Most faith leaders have been so strong in supporting their communities to do the right thing and to carry on their mission despite having these challenges that we're dealing with in a global pandemic."

She added later, “faith is not a building… It is not about Sunday mornings, it is about every day. It's not about rights, it's about community."

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