More than 100 people gathered for the Sunday morning service at His Tabernacle Family Church in Saint John, where the pastor was ticketed last week for failing to follow the province’s emergency ordinances.
The church appeared to have a tent set up outside to verify the names of people arriving. But the vast majority of people entering and leaving church did not wear masks or physically distance themselves.
Two uniformed peace officers were on the scene shortly before the start of the service. They left after talking to people outside.
Under the province’s emergency decree, peace officers can order the release of premises and detain people under certain conditions.
About 90 minutes later, 10 other officers pulled up in five vehicles outside the church. Some tried to enter but were turned away by the parishioners at the gate.
After that, law enforcement officers began recording the license plate numbers of all vehicles parked on the church grounds. They also filmed people as they left the church.
At one point, a man was taken away in one of the peace officer’s vehicles, but was later released.
A reporter from another media requested permission to enter the church during the service, but was dismissed. CBC asked to speak to a representative of the church, but no one was available.
It is not known if tickets or fines will be issued as a result of the Sunday service. CBC has contacted the Department of Public Safety for more information.
In an email, a spokesperson said he could “confirm a transaction at the location you have identified” but would not discuss the details.
Church fined for flouting provincial emergency ordinance
On October 6, a ticket was issued to a representative of the church “for non-compliance with the provisions of the mandatory decree”.
Under the mandatory order, a peace officer can impose a fine in the amount of $ 480 plus victim surcharge and costs, and in cases where an offense is brought to court, a judge could impose a fine. maximum fine of $ 20,400, plus victim fine surcharge and costs.
Repeated violations will result in continued escalating penalties, according to the Department of Justice and Public Safety.
On October 8, Philip James Hutchings, the church’s pastor, signed an ordinance agreeing to “make all reasonable efforts to ensure compliance” and to enforce the rules regarding denominational gatherings.
Under the province’s emergency ordinances, churches have two options. They can choose between requiring proof of vaccination or maintaining services at 50% of capacity with distancing, contact tracing lists and no chanting. Masks are mandatory with either option.
Churches, source of transmission of COVID-19
Premier Blaine Higgs said churches have played a role in the growth of cases province-wide.
About 10% of a “network” of 700 cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick in September were “linked to cult-type events,” public health epidemiologist Mathieu Chalifoux said in a COVID briefing -19 last month.
The province reported 73 new cases on Sunday and two deaths. New Brunswick has announced 173 cases in the past two days.