Sask. urges residents to go virtual this Easter weekend as many churches go online

St. Andrew's United Church in Moose Jaw (Gareth Dillistone/CTV Regina)

The Government of Saskatchewan is urging residents to take extreme care heading into the long weekend.

“If they are getting together, we ask them to be very diligent because it doesn't take much for to spread through a family spread through a household,” said Paul Merriman, the province’s health minister.      

Within the Regina zone, indoor private gatherings are limited to immediate households. People who live alone and single parents of minors are allowed to meet with one consistent household of less than five people.

The province is strongly suggesting all Saskatchewan families consider virtual gatherings.

“This is again an Easter weekend where we must take care and stay close to our home communities. If we do choose to attend worship services, you know, look at what your attendance options, virtual is always safer than in person,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer said Thursday.

Churches in the Queen City are allowed up to 30 people for in person attendance, but many are taking extra precautions.

“We made the decision to not have in person worship until times that it was safe to do so for our community, both in terms of the congregation and the community around us,” said Cameron Fraser, a minister at Knox-Metropolitan United Church.

Outside the Regina region, private indoor gatherings can only be made up of two to three consistent households and cannot exceed 10 people. Churches are allowed 30 per cent capacity or up to 150 people, but St. Andrew’s United Church in Moose Jaw didn’t want to take the chance. 

“Because we're in Moose Jaw and because the COVID-19 numbers have been so high here, our church council decided that it is going to be most prudent to stay online only. So, there will be no services in person, sadly, but online and on YouTube,” said Jim Tenford, the reverend at St. Andrew’s United.

While it’s not the Easter celebration many people wanted, the pastor is hoping it’ll be the last spent physically apart.

“Have a happy and safe Easter, I really want this pandemic to be over and if that's going to happen it’s because we take care of each other,” Tenford said.