Churches in the northwest have taken a “punch in the gut” as in-person Christmas services have to be cancelled for the second consecutive year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Nov. 30 public heath order announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, put brakes on in-person worship services (although drive-in services will be permitted) and limited indoor social gatherings at private residences to allow up to 10 people in Northern Health communities. Private outdoor gatherings can have up to 25 vaccinated people.
The Terrace Ministerial Association pulled the plug on their event, Christmas Begins With Christ, scheduled for Dec. 5 at George Little Park in Terrace.
Pastor Brad Reid from the Zion Baptist Church (ZBC), one of the organizers, said the cancellation is “discouraging” but the group could not proceed with the event the way it was envisioned under the new restrictions. ZBC will also pivot to a virtual Christmas service for its members.
“This is hard, particularly since this is the second year that during Christmas, restrictions are affecting churches in Northern Health,” Reid said.
However, the announcement was not totally unexpected, said Reid, owing to COVID-19 case numbers in the region seeing an uptick.
The latest restrictions also extend to bars and nightclubs in the Northern Health region which were ordered closed, and restaurants can only serve liquor until 10 p.m.
The public health order for northern B.C. will be effective until Jan. 31, 2022.