RCMP investigate after church service held in violation of COVID-19 restrictions

A church service reportedly held in violation of COVID-19 restrictions in Manitoba on Sunday is being investigated by police.

The RCMP were called to the Church of God in the Rural Municipality of Hanover, southeast of Winnipeg, around 8:30 a.m. about multiple vehicles in the parking lot and a gathering inside.

Officers spoke with a representative of the church but have not issued any tickets yet, according to an RCMP spokesperson.

“This is currently still under investigation and RCMP are working with Public Health on the matter,” the spokesperson said.

The Church of God is located off of Highway 12 about 15 kilometres south of Steinbach — a city with an extremely high COVID-19 test-positivity rate of 40 per cent.

Under the current code red public health orders, places of worship “must be closed to the public.”

Religious leaders may offer services at a place of worship, but only for the purpose of offering it for viewing online or through other remote means.

The fine for individuals breaching the orders is $1,296 while corporations can be penalized with a $5,000 ticket.

RCMP did hand out at least one fine to an individual a week ago after more than 100 protesters gathered in Steinbach to protest the government restrictions.