After $37,000 in fines, court rules Winnipeg church’s drive-in service breaches health orders

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba courts have ruled that a Winnipeg church cannot hold drive-in services.

Springs Church first held a drive-in service on November 26 and was fined $5,000 for breaking public health orders.

It then received 10 more tickets on November 28 and 29, totalling $32,776.

In an affidavit, the church’s pastor said he was told if the church held another ‘church in our cars’ service, individuals could receive fines up to $100,000 and a business could receive a fine up to $1,000,000.

The church’s lawyers said the church believes in COVID-19 and is not be associated with anti-maskers. 

The church’s council argued public health orders only list gatherings of persons and not cars. 

It also argued that the drive-in service poses no real harm compared to other daily activities, a fact agreed upon by the Crown.

The Crown, however, said an exemption opens the door to many others to try and find ways around public health orders.

It also argued the value to the pastor and churchgoers does not outweigh the life and death risk if even one person gets sick. The Crown said sitting in a parking lot listening to a service isn’t that different from sitting at home and listening.

The judge denied the church’s application for a stay and found ‘church in our cars’ to be in non-compliance with public health orders.

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