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

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.

The Creston Valley Hospital's chief of staff squashed any rumours about temporary seasonal workers spreading COVID-19 around town on Aug. 6. Aaron Hemens - Creston Valley Advance
Five active cases of COVID-19 in Creston

There has been a total of 47 cases in the community since January 2020

A new park is under development for the Lower Kootenay Band. Ken White, facility and operations manager, holds up the draft plans with Nasukin Jason Louie on the construction site. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Lower Kootenay Band develops plan for new memorial park

The new Kulilu Garden will serve as a memorial for children who died from polio and tuberculosis in the 1930s and 40s

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

(Police handout/Kamloops RCMP)
B.C. man dies in custody awaiting trial for Valentine’s Day robbery, kidnapping spree

Robert James Rennie, who was on the Kamloops RCMP’s most wanted list, passed away at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Coquitlam

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks games against Leafs postponed as team returns from COVID-19

The team has had 11 games postponed since an outbreak late last month

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Island woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

Becomes first person in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

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

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Read