The previously announced class variance for limited indoor worship services has been suspended in the wake of surging cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in B.C.
The announcement comes after health officials announced that there were 2,518 new cases of the virus detected from Friday (March 26) to Monday (March 29).
While indoor worship services are suspended, outdoor services under the current variance may continue.
The new provincial public health orders will go into effect at midnight tonight (March 30) and will remain in effect until April 19.
"COVID-19 continues to create challenges for people and businesses throughout B.C., and we are grateful for the sacrifices people continue to make to keep one another safe," said Premier John Horgan.
"We know that the idea of more restrictions is not welcome news, but we are asking people to rise to the challenge with the confidence that vaccines mean better days are ahead. We are not out of the woods yet, but the provincial health officer's orders, combined with our vaccines, give us the tools we need to move out of this pandemic together."
Indoor religious gatherings and worship services
Indoor in-person religious gatherings and worship services of any size are prohibited.
- You must not attend a service at a church, synagogue, mosque, gudwara, temple or other place of worship
- Religious services can continue using remote or virtual attendance options, like Zoom or Skype
You can still visit your place of worship for individual activities such as guidance from spiritual leaders, contemplation or personal prayer.
Religious leaders may attend the home of a member of their religious community to provide religious services to the occupant.
You can attend an outdoor religious gathering.
Outdoor religious gatherings and worship services
Religious worship services may be held outdoors (including in open-sided tents and under overhead coverings). Before, during and after the service, people must not gather or socially engage.
- Up to 50 people may attend, plus 2 extra people to make sure rules are followed
- Participants must be 2 metres apart unless they live in the same private residence
- Drive-in worship events can continue to operate (No more than 50 vehicles may be present, and people who attend in a vehicle must remain in the vehicle)
- Musical groups of up to 5 musicians may perform
- The only people who can sing are soloists and worship leaders. The only people who can chant are worship leaders
Masks are required at all times by everyone in attendance.
- Masks can only be removed by soloists (when singing), worship leaders (when speaking, singing or chanting), readers (when reading out loud), or musicians who need to do so to play their instrument. They must maintain 3 metres of spacing or use a physical barrier
- Masks are not required for people who can’t wear a mask due to a condition or impairment or kids under the age of 12
- Collect information for contract tracing
- Supply hand sanitizer
- Caution those at risk, including seniors and those with underlying medical conditions or compromised immune systems, from attending
"The sacrifices we make today will help all of us to get through this storm."
"Rising case levels, variants of concern, increased transmission and an increase in more severe cases are huge concerns," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. "B.C. public health officials are making the tough choices now to break the chain and protect our communities."
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, said: "Social connection is important, and so is keeping our loved ones and ourselves safe. We all have a choice - to stay safe or put our loved ones, our friends and ourselves at risk, which is why non-essential activities need to be limited and need to be outside with the same small number of people. The sacrifices we make today will help all of us to get through this storm."