Police in Aylmer, Ontario were seen on video Tuesday night handing out fines to people who allegedly attended church services over the weekend.
The fines were handed out to residents who attended the local Church of God on Sunday.
In a video posted to Twitter, one resident expressed disapproval with the fine he received, asking police if they realized that he "wasn't even on the [inaudible]?" While it was unclear what he was referring to, the resident appeared to have resisted the idea that he evaded coronavirus restrictions.
Police informed the resident that while he can fight the charge, he would not engage in a debate with the man and that he was receiving the fine for being present at an indoor gathering.
The officers then drove away in an unmarked vehicle.
"Community safety and well being and enforcement of laws is our top priority during this global pandemic," said Aylmer Police Chief Zvonko Horvat regarding the church gathering. "Aylmer Police are asking the citizens to exercise patience as we sift through the evidence and lay appropriate charges during the latest blatant violation of the emergency orders by this particular group. Irresponsible actions of those involved will not be tolerated."
Zvonko also said that Southwestern Public Health should work "to develop further mitigating strategies specific to this group to reduce the risk of exposure and harm within out community."
Another branch of the Church of God in Steinbach, Manitoba also sparked controversy last year after hosting church services in violation of coronavirus lockdown orders. Despite police shutting down the service, the Manitoba government responded by allowing drive-in church services afterwards.
Under current Ontario coronavirus rules, residents are required to remain at home for all activities considered non-essential. Religious gatherings have been categorized as essential, but only up to ten people at a time may be present at a given service whether it is hosted indoors or outdoors.
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