Earlier this week, Quebec’s Minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, announced that churches and places that serve alcohol must lower their capacity to no more than 50 people, according to The Christian Post.
Areas hit hard by COVID, such as Montreal and Quebec City, that have been labeled “orange” for infections, must restrict their indoor facilities’ capacity to only 25 people present.
Yet religious leaders find the announcement troubling as other indoor facilities are exempt from the new ruling, including auditoriums, cinemas, theaters, and audiovisual recording studios. These places may have 250 people present.
“Epidemiological investigations have shown that outbreaks are more particularly linked to gatherings,” said the Health and Social Services department in a statement. “Thus, public health therefore recommends tightening the rules relating to gatherings in order to protect the population.”
Bishop Pierre Goudreault, head of the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatiere believes the ruling is discrimination as no Catholic church has experienced an outbreak. Mass participants have practiced the three “W”s: “watch your distance, wear your mask, and wash your hands,” according to a report by RealClearScience.
“With approximately 17,000 parishes in America typically holding three or more weekend masses—and a greater number of daily masses—for the last 14 or more weeks—over one million public masses have been celebrated following guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus …” the report said.
RealClearScience continued to give examples of “asymptomatic, unknowingly infected individuals attending mass and other parish functions” without infecting others and causing an outbreak.
Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, vice president of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec and spokesman for the Quebec Interreligious Working Group, called out the government for “put[ting] us in the category of bars.”
Canada is currently grappling with its second wave of COVID-19, according to CBC News. Cases have spiked in four provinces, including Quebec, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warns that Canada is “at a crossroads.”
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Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine.