(Winnipeg) A Manitoba judge has rejected a church’s request to be able to hold drive-through religious services despite health restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the province.
Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Judge Glenn Joyal ruled that the church had failed to demonstrate how church services held online, rather than in a parking lot, would cause it irreparable harm.
The magistrate held a special hearing Saturday for the case involving Winnipeg’s Springs Church, which has been fined more than $ 32,000 in recent weeks and wanted a ruling ahead of a service scheduled for later today.
The church argued that the public health ban on in-person religious services violates charter freedoms of religion and association. She requested an injunction so that the ceremonies could take place physically before the examination of the merits of the case.
The public health ordinance also prohibits any gathering of more than five people.
The attorney for the church argued that drive-in ceremonies pose no risk, as participants are encouraged to stay in their vehicles while the pastor speaks from a stage. “They are not allowed to enter church buildings, not even to use the toilets,” said Me Kevin Williams.
A government lawyer had argued that the ban is part of efforts to limit public gatherings and thus curb contagion in the province, which has one of the highest infection rates in the country.
There is no way to ensure that worshipers do not socialize in the parking lot, noted Mr.e Heather Leonoff.
The move comes as the toll of infections and deaths continues to mount across Manitoba. Authorities reported 354 new cases on Saturday and a daily high of 19 deaths.
No date has yet been set to hear the church’s arguments based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.