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Ban on in-person religious services ends on Friday

Larger indoor and outdoor gatherings are allowed under the new orders, in effect until Jan. 31
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The public health order prohibited in-person religious services in the Northern Health region will end on Friday at midnight. (via Shutterstock)

The public health orders prohibiting in-person religious services in the Northern Health region will end on Friday at midnight.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Northern Health said religious groups will still be required to follow the provincial public health orders requiring COVID-19 safety plans and proof of vaccination for worshipers.

“Under the recent changes, faith-based organizations will be allowed to resume in-person worship services, as long as they are limited to 50 per cent capacity in the place of worship and all participants over the age of 11 are vaccinated,” Northern Health’s statement said. “Virtual or drive-in services can be held without a check of vaccination status.”

Multiple religious organizations in the Northern Health region have received warning letters for conducting faith services while the current orders were in effect. The Heritage Free Presbyterian Church was issued a warning letter on Dec. 1, and warnings were also issued to the Decker Lake Mennonite Church, Vanderhoof Mennonite Church, Faith Reformed Church of Telkwa, Smithers Canadian Reformed Church, Bethel United Reformed Church and the Catholic Church of the Resurrection in Fort St. John.

Larger indoor, outdoor gatherings allowed

The revised Northern Health Gatherings and Events COVID-19 Order will come into effect on Saturday, and are expected to be in place until at least Jan. 31.

The revised orders also remove the requirement for proof of vaccination for outdoor events, in line with provincial measures.

The new orders double the number of fully-vaccinated people allowed at personal inside gatherings from five to 10, and increase the number allowed at personal outdoor gatherings from 15 to 25.

The 50-person limit on indoor, seated events like weddings, funerals and theatre performances will be eliminated, as is the 100-person limit on outdoor events. Both indoor and outdoor events will be allowed to have 50 per cent of the venue capacity, with proof of vaccination required for indoor events.