Springs Church charged with violating COVID-19 rules weeks after grad ceremony photos surfaced

The province has now charged Springs Church with violating COVID-19-related public health orders, after photos circulated last month of a graduation ceremony at the church with dozens of people not wearing masks. 

Springs Church has been charged with two counts of failing to abide by public health orders: one for holding an indoor gathering and one for failing to remind people to wear masks inside their property, related to an incident on or about May 20, a news release says.

Springs Church posted a series of photos on Instagram on May 21, showing more than a dozen people dressed in formal attire standing on a stage. 

The post was deleted after people started criticizing the church on social media for flouting COVID-19 rules. 

Public health orders at the time prohibited all indoor gatherings, including religious, cultural and community gatherings in the province.

There were 108 tickets issued, 90 of them given to individuals, and 96 warnings in the week of June 7-13. 

Almost all of the individual tickets, 90 in total, were related to gatherings in private residences or outdoors. 

There were also four tickets given to people accused of failing to self-isolate and seven for failing to wear a mask in an indoor public place. 

Two $5,000 tickets were given to businesses: one to Iglesia Ni Cristo Church in Winnipeg, and one to the Ikea in Winnipeg. 

There was also one ticket issued to a sole proprietorship for violating COVID-19 rules.

This week’s enforcement update also includes the arrest of Maxime Bernier on Friday afternoon. Bernier had flown to Manitoba to attend various anti-lockdown events in the province. 

He was arrested after his second stop of the day, in the village of St-Pierre-Jolys, about 50 kilometres south of Winnipeg. He was also ticketed earlier that day at his first stop, in the town of Niverville, 20 kilometres north of St-Pierre-Jolys. 

Bernier has been charged with failing to self-isolate upon arriving in Manitoba and with failing to follow public health orders by attending public gatherings, the news release says.