Just ahead of the Easter long weekend, Provincial Health Officer for BC, Dr. Bonnie Henry, announced an amendment to the public health order that will allow outdoor religious gatherings.
On Tuesday, March 23rd, in a joint statement from the Province, Dr. Henry provided a variance for outdoor worship services if services fulfill COVID-19 safety plans.
Attendees will be required to wear face coverings and submit to a health check.
The services must be held outdoors but can include an open-sided tent, under overhead covering, or vehicles containing persons who reside in the same private residence.
Fifty people, as well as people in fifty vehicles, may be present.
Choirs are not allowed, but a soloist may sing at a worship service with a musical group of up to five members who are physically distanced.
A person organizing a worship service must pre-register all participants for the purposes of controlling attendance and contact tracing.
A worship leader, reader, or soloist must wear a face covering during a worship service, but may remove the face covering when speaking, singing, or chanting.
Worship service organizers must ensure COVID-19 safety plans are in place for all outdoor services and all attendees follow those plans.
Those with a vulnerability to COVID-19 are cautioned to attend.
The variance does not have an expiration date.
As of this publication, there are 5,409 active COVID-19 in BC with 217 of those being in the Island Health region.