Date: November 20, 2020 05:05PM
New public health orders yesterday include all religious institutions - no in-person meetings in churches, synagogues, temples, etc for two weeks. Baptisms, weddings and funerals can still be held but with a limit of 10 people, including the officiants, and no receptions are allowed (due to the tendency for guests to be milling about, eating, singing, hugging, etc).
It's obvious that we are in our second wave of CV now in B.C. and in Canada overall. Our case numbers here in B.C. were in the single digits for months in the beginning but have been spiking up, with over 700/day being reported last week, in the 500s still yesterday. They still seem low, compared to other areas, but with that exponential growth potential our public health officials are getting ever more serious. The projection now is 20,000 new cases a day for the country overall in the coming months if things don't turn around.
The B.C. public health officer yesterday made mask-wearing in public spaces mandatory for the first time. Before it was just "strongly recommended". But people wanted hard and fast, black and white guidelines and rules and so that's what we've got now, for at least two weeks, in an attempt to settle the daily new case numbers down again.
There have been restrictions before limiting numbers of people allowed in certain spaces at a time (usually 50% of normal capacity in restaurants, for example). It was also often repeated that being outdoors is generally considered quite safe. Now there's a wider scope of restrictions, such as no spectators at sports events (such as kids' soccer games - no parents on sidelines), and certain types of fitness facilities are closed altogether, such as spin classes, hot yoga, most gyms. Some people are happy with more regulation, some feel confused, some are decidedly unhappy.
We have excellent public health oversight regarding outbreaks and trends and contact tracing, etc to try and manage the pandemic. Most people seem happier with the new mask mandate because there were still a lot of people who didn't use them. Now the poor folks (usually younger staff) in shops and restaurants don't have to argue with stubborn customers who didn't want to wear masks, even if a facility had the rule that they were required. It's coming from the government now and so hopefully it lessens the pressure on each individual establishment to try and gain cooperation from resistant clients (who seem to be in the minority).
Predictably, I guess, spokespeople for churches etc that I've heard so far today have not been happy. One commented that freedom of religion is enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He explained how important gathering and worshipping is to religious people. I get that. But these are extraordinary circumstances and so far, this order is in place for only the next two weeks, then to be revisited.
I am not a legal expert but I do believe that public health situations trump the Charter. It does not bestow unlimited freedom on a citizen. We've all accepted that wearing seatbelts is mandated, as is the injunction against smoking in public spaces, especially indoors. A temporary mask mandate would seem to fall into that category.
I know that Christians, for instance, take very seriously the principle of not forsaking the gathering together in worship. But there is the counterbalance of the clear statement in the Bible to obey secular authorities. There is also the principle that wherever two or three are gathered in JC's name he will be there. So you're covered even if you stay home and if alone you can always call a friend. That's 2, so he will be there, according to scripture.
So I don't get how at least the Christian leaders couldn't with good conscience lead their flocks by example and follow public health mandates for the good of their communities. The spokesperson I listened to on the radio this morning was calm and reasonable but still he was defending their right to gather and mentioned the possibility of launching an appeal against the order.
The authorities here are closing down places where they know that transmission of CV has occurred but trying to leave other types of places open. I think that is what is confusing to people. If restaurants can be open why can't we go to church is the question worshippers have.
If I feel like listening to or watching a religious event there's always the radio or TV. I don't feel a huge need to be in-person in a crowd. But I do get that others feel differently. I don't see it as an assault on religion though. And I think no matter how careful people think they're being, clearly things are falling through the cracks. Or more to the point, the virus is swirling through the air. I don't mind just breathing my own air, by myself, for a little while, if it's going to keep me healthy. I do feel for people who love to socialize, wherever that may occur. I'm lucky that I enjoy my own company, at least for a little while. I can make it through two weeks.
It will be interesting to see if the faith leaders accept the new reality or if they fight against it. The arguments I heard this morning for being able to continue with in-person church meetings weren't very convincing.
Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 11/20/2020 05:24PM by Nightingale.