EDMONTON – Alberta health officials are closing a church near Edmonton after it held multiple over-capacity services despite current COVID-19 restrictions.
Photos circulating online Wednesday morning showed large fences being put up around the GraceLife church.
GraceLife has been the centre of controversy after it held services with more people in attendance than allowed under current COVID-19 protocols.
— Courtney Theriault (@cspotweet) April 7, 2021
The church’s pastor, James Coates, also spent some time behind bars for charges in relation to breaking pandemic health restrictions.
Photos online also showed RCMP on-site and nearby roads blocked off, limiting access to the church.
— 660 NEWS Calgary (@660NEWS) April 7, 2021
Alberta Health Services (AHS) announced that it has “physically closed” the place of worship “until GLC can demonstrate the ability to comply with Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health’s (CMOH) restrictions.”
“For several months, AHS has attempted to work collaboratively with GLC to address the ongoing public health concerns at the site,” reads a release from AHS.
As fencing continued to go up around the property, supporters of the church also gathered to protest the closure.
Alberta RCMP said they will not be providing official interviews or statements because they are assisting AHS in the closure of the church.
AHS says it handed down a list of orders to get the church back to operating safely under COVID-19 guidelines but that the church decided not to follow the rules or attempt to work with health officials.
Between last July and April 6 of this year, AHS says it received 105 complaints about GraceLife and inspectors have conducted 10 site inspections. Violations were observed at each visit.
“With COVID-19 cases increasing and the more easily-transmitted and potentially more severe variants becoming dominant, there is urgent need to minimize spread to protect all Albertans.”