Nova Scotia

Annapolis Valley church fined for violating COVID-19 gathering limits

RCMP in Nova Scotia have charged a church near Berwick, N.S., and members of its congregation with violating health protection rules against large gatherings in the midst of the pandemic.

RCMP say officers called to Weston Christian Fellowship Church Sunday morning

RCMP Cpl. Chris Marshall said the church in Berwick, N.S., had previously been warned against holding gatherings in violation of COVID-19 public health rules. (Robert Short/CBC)

RCMP in Nova Scotia say they have charged a church and members of its congregation with violating health protection rules forbidding large gatherings in the midst of the pandemic.

Officers were called to Weston Christian Fellowship Church just outside Berwick, N.S., around 11:15 a.m. Sunday, acting on a complaint from the public.

RCMP Cpl. Chris Marshall said officers saw a faith gathering about to begin. He said police warned the congregation, but the gathering went ahead anyway.

"As a result, police charged 26 people and an organization under the Health Protection Act for having a faith gathering contrary to public health restrictions," Marshall said Monday.

The fines for the 13 men and 13 women were $2,422 each. Police also fined the church $11,622.50.

"It should be noted that police responded to a similar complaint at the location on May 2 and a warning was issued at the time as restrictions had recently changed to no longer allow faith gatherings," Marshall said.

"The organization was advised that any faith gatherings that continued from this point out would likely result in fines being issued."

Marshall described the situation as a "very exceptional case," because it's rare for people to ignore a warning from police.

Nova Scotia banned faith gatherings late last month as part of a wide range of measures brought in as the number of COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in the province.

Calls to Weston Christian Fellowship Church on Monday went unanswered. The church website lists several of its regularly scheduled services as postponed. However, it still lists Sunday services at 10:30 am and 6 pm.

Windsor business fined more than $11,000

Last week, West Hants RCMP also issued a hefty fine to a hair salon in Windsor for violating the Health Protection Act.

Police said they were notified around 2:15 p.m. Thursday that the salon was operating, even though the province had ordered all personal-service businesses like hairdressers and nail salons to close late last month. 

When police arrived at the business, they said the owner "went to great lengths" to make it appear that she had closed, but through their investigation RCMP determined that the business was still operating, according to a news release issued Monday.

Police charged the business under the Health Protection Act for continuing to operate, contrary to current restrictions.

The fine issued to the business was $11,622.50.

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