Packed Good Friday service in violation of public health restrictions hosted by GraceLife Church

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GraceLife Church held another packed service that Alberta Health Services (AHS) say breached COVID-19 public health restrictions.

The parking lot was filled with cars Friday as the church held a Good Friday service for the Easter long weekend.

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.

In a statement to CTV News Edmonton, AHS said an environmental public health inspector visited GraceLife Church Friday and noted violations of those health restrictions, including a lack of physical distancing, masking, and consideration of restrictions towards capacity.

In a livestream of the Good Friday service, attendees at GraceLife could be seen singing without masks which is a violation of public health directives.

“AHS continues to consider further enforcement options,” AHS said. “We ask that all business owners and organizations recognize that our staff have an important job to do and treat them with respect.

“We expect that all places of worship across Alberta follow the Chief Medical Officer of Health restrictions, given the increase in cases, particularly those involving variants of concern.”

CTV News Edmonton reached out to the RCMP for comment. RCMP were present again on Friday prior to the start of GraceLife’s service.

James Coates, GraceLife Church pastor, led the Good Friday service.

Coates was charged with two violations of the Public Health Act 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 Public Health Act charges dropped.