GraceLife hosts Easter service in violation of COVID-19 public health rules Sunday

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GraceLife Church continued its streak of hosting packed services on Sunday, despite a closure order issued in January for violating COVID-19 restrictions.

The parking lot was filled with vehicles as the church held an Easter service.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) told CTV News Edmonton in a statement that a public health inspector visited GraceLife Church on Sunday and noted what appeared to be breaches of current Chief Medical Officer of Health restrictions related to capacity, lack of physical distancing and masking.

“AHS is continuing work on further enforcement options,” they said.

Under the current public health restrictions, churches and places of worship are allowed to host services but must limit capacity to 15 per cent, require physical distancing between cohorts and households, and mandatory masking.

The church also hosted a packed Good Friday service where AHS noted violations of health restrictions.

For the first time, two protesters stood across the road from GraceLife Church.

In an interview with CTV News Edmonton they said since no one else is doing anything about GraceLife, the pair wanted to take action.

“Nobody is doing anything about this so we thought instead of saying somebody should do something about this we would just come out and make a statement,” one of them said.

“We are saying that we are not supportive of these large gatherings and that they’re not particularly respectful to the rest of the world.”

Both of them wished to stay anonymous.

The two held signs that read, “What would Jesus do (WWJD)? Hang out in a cohort of 12,” and “Jesus would say, spread kindness not COVID.”

James Coates, GraceLife Church pastor, led service.

Coates was charged with two violations of the Public Health Act (PHA) and failing to comply with a condition of his undertaking.

The pastor pleaded guilty to a lesser count the last charge as part of a deal that saw one of the two PHA charges dropped.

His three-day trial on the outstanding PHA charge begins on May 3.