Michael Swan

Ontario worship services limited to 10 again as COVID surges

  • April 16, 2021

With Ontario going into hard lockdown to combat a disturbing rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, places of worship will once again be limited to a hard cap of 10 people in attendance.

Premier Doug Ford announced new restrictions Friday afternoon — to begin April 19 — as the province finds itself pleading with other provinces to share their nurses and other medical workers as Canada’s largest province finds itself overwhelmed by a surge in cases. For almost a week daily counts of new cases in Ontario have been well over 4,000. Ontario’s science advisors earlier in the day said a six-week stay-at-home order and a 100,000-per-day vaccination rate was needed to flatten the curve.

The hard cap on worship services comes mere weeks after a loosening of restrictions that allowed for more wide-open services, including a 15-per-cent capacity in Toronto churches (some communities across the province had higher restrictions).

The Archdiocese of Toronto has chosen to temporarily cancel services, as was done when earlier restrictions put a hard cap on worship services. Wherever possible, the archdiocese is asking parishes to remain open for private prayer and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and if desired proceed with Holy Communion services on Saturday afternoons/evening or Sundays.

“I very much recognize the significant stress and anxiety that many people are feeling given the current situation and the frustration and spiritual pain inflicted by these restrictions over the past year,” said Cardinal Thomas Collins. “Be assured of my prayers as we face these challenging days. Please continue to pray for all those who are sick and those caring for them.

The restrictions hit all sectors of society. Capacity at grocery and big box stores was reduced, recreation services were cancelled and the province planned to put checkpoints at provincial border entry points.

Last modified on April 16, 2021

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