Churchgoers welcome ease in restrictions as in-person masses restart
WINNIPEG -- Loosened restrictions for churches, mosques, powwows, and other spiritual events took effect this weekend as part of Phase 4 of Manitoba's reopening plan.
It's a long time coming for parishioners at St. George's Anglican Church, who were able to attend an in-person service on Sunday.
Margo Foxford and her husband Giles Bugailiskis, who attended the service, said they haven't been inside the church in quite a while due to COVID-19.
"It's the first day that it's been open to parishioners in a couple of months, and so it was kind of exciting to anticipate coming and being together," said Foxford.
In Phase 3 of reopening, the province allowed faith-based gatherings to be held at 30 per cent capacity or a maximum of 500 people, but subgroups were required.
In Phase 4, subgroups and cohorts are no longer needed when attending spiritual events.
Before Sunday, St. George's Church was live-streaming their services, but Bugailiskis said watching online isn't the same as in person.
"Church is a community, and a community is not watching something on television," said Bugailiskis.
Foxford and Bugailiskis said people need to decide on an individual basis if they're comfortable going to an in-person service.
As for the couple, there's no question they'll be back Sunday.
Peter Flynn, a preacher at St. George's Anglican Church, said even though they're opening for in-person services again, a lot has changed.
"You go in, you squirt your hands (with sanitizer), of course, and you must wear masks. You cannot sing, and that's a major difference," he said.
Flynn said the service would typically include a choir and a large procession, but due to physical distancing measures, they chose not to.
The church has arrows along the floor to guide traffic, seats have been marked to ensure distancing, and a log is kept of all who attended.
Flynn said the church plans to hold a service every Sunday until they're told otherwise.