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November 21, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A new public health order in British Columbia that took effect yesterday bans public worship services, mandates universal mask usage in indoor public places, and even forbids social interaction until December 7.
“In-person religious gatherings and worship services are suspended under the order,” with the exception of baptisms, weddings, and funerals, which are limited to 10 persons in attendance.
In reaction to the announcement, Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver complained that “it seems that religious institutions are not being treated with the same consideration regarding the number present at religious gatherings compared to that at secular indoor gatherings,” seemingly in response to the fact that the order does not impact restaurants and movie theaters, which are still allowed to operate according to the COVID-19 Safety Plan and employee protocols already in place.
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Nevertheless, the archbishop exhorted Catholics to comply: “While this is very disappointing, we are called to be beacons of light to the community at large and must do our part in a spirit of sacrificial love for our neighbours.”
The government expects employers to enforce the universal mask mandate, and customers “can be refused entry or service if they do not wear a mask.”
The order prescribing universal mask usage throughout the province stands in contrast to what Dr. Bonnie Henry wrote on Monday — that “ordering universal mask use in all situations creates unnecessary challenges with enforcement and stigmatization.”
CTV News contested the government’s claims that it is merely “following the science,” reporting that “Henry said the sudden reversal was due to increasing public pressure, including from businesses, some of which have expressed concerns about putting the onus of enforcing piecemeal policy onto workers.”
Further, the draconian order forbids “social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your household or core bubbles,” even outdoors. In its section on “allowed activities,” it says that while going for a walk is permitted, “you must make sure a walk does not turn into a group of people meeting outside.”
The government has said these orders “can be enforced by police or other compliance and enforcement officials” and that those who do not comply “could be fined.”
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