Church west of Edmonton cited for public health violations, pastor ticketed
EDMONTON -- Alberta Health Services has found a church in Parkland County to be in violation of the province’s newest COVID-19 restrictions.
A health officer attended the Grace Life Church of Edmonton at 51529A Range Road 262 and cited a number of violations including:
- Church attendees, staff members and volunteers were observed to be unmasked in the lobby and auditorium
- Members of different households were observed socializing without masks while less than two metres apart
- Church pews were mostly full and attendees sitting side-by-side and not distancing
- A group performed on stage while not masked or maintaining two metres of distance between them
- It appeared no one was counting the number of attendees, therefore maximum capacity of 15 per cent of the fire code could have been exceeded
The pastor of Grace Life Church was given a $1,200 ticket on Sunday for contravening the Public Health Act, according to the RCMP. Mounties said Alberta Health Services requested that they issue the ticket.
On Dec. 17 the church was ordered to make a number of changes, including the following:
- Ensure that all persons, including but not limited to church attendees, staff, volunteers and performers, wear a face mask or other face covering that covers their nose, mouth and chin at all times while inside the premises.
- Ensure that physical distancing of at least two metres between households is strictly adhered to at all times.
- Ensure individuals greeting people at the entrance of the premises are wearing a face mask and maintaining two metres physical distancing from others not in their household.
- Ensure that performers are wearing a face mask and are spaced apart to allow for physical distancing (two metres) between performers and the attendees
- Provide AHS with information about the total operational occupancy load for the premises, as determined in accordance with the Alberta Fire Code. This information must be submitted to AHS Executive Officer by Dec. 19, 2020.
- Do not allow the building capacity to exceed 15 per cent of the total operational occupancy load as per the Alberta Fire Code.
The order said the changes were to be completed immediately.
Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw was asked about enforcement at churches at her daily update on Monday.
“We've worked very hard to work collaboratively with faith leaders in Alberta and I will say that the majority of faith leaders have been incredibly hard working have been demonstrating leadership and caring for their communities,” she said.
“But if groups continue to make decisions that put their communities at risk, not just those who may attend those services or who attend a particular event or gathering, but those actions put their broader community at risk, then unfortunately sometimes it does need to move into an enforcement category.”