Judge to decide Saturday if Winnipeg church can have drive-in services

A judge will decide if a Winnipeg church can continue to have drive-in services in a rare Saturday court hearing.

Springs Church and two of its pastors have been fined over $32,000 for allowing the services, which are banned under Manitoba’s current public health order aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

The order, which is set to expire on Dec. 11, requires places of worship to be closed to the public. Other strict conditions include prohibiting the sale of non-essential items in stores and a ban on visitors in private homes.

The health order allows religious leaders to hold services over the internet or “other remote means,” but doesn’t allow drive-in services.

‘This is a case that’s urgent’

The church is arguing that violates three different charter-protected rights.

Lawyers for the province tried to delay the matter, insisting they needed more time to prepare to properly defend the province’s case.

But Chief Justice Glenn Joyal said the case is in the public interest and irreparable immediate harm or damage might be caused if it was delayed further. 

“In my view this is a case that’s urgent,” he said, noting he wouldn’t be delivering an adjudication on charter arguments Saturday, but simply on the more pressing issue of whether the church can have drive-in services or not.

Joyal said he would make an initial decision Saturday ahead of the church’s scheduled evening service.

WATCH | Winnipeg church seeks injunction in order to continue drive-in services: 

Springs Church, which has been fined $25,000 for holding drive-in services last month, is seeking an interim stay of the province’s current public health order, which requires places of worship to be closed to the public. 2:08

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