Followup to Archbishop Collins’ request for review of COVID capacity restrictions on religious gatherings

Premier Ford responds to Archbishop Collins request for a review of COVID caps for religious gatherings. Bravo Premier Ford.

The province is set to ease capacity limits for weddings, funerals, religious services, rites and ceremonies held in regions now in the “grey-zone,” effective Monday, March 15.

The provincial framework will now allow for regions in the grey zone to permit indoor gatherings of up to 15 percent total occupancy or up to 50 occupants outdoors.

In a letter sent to parishioners before the change, Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, said

the original plan unfairly capped religious gatherings regardless of church capacity, maintaining a hard limit of 10 worshippers “whether they seat 100 or 1,000 people.”

The ease of restrictions comes after religious groups, including the Archdiocese of Toronto, launched a campaign called “A Place to Worship,” urging residents to write to their MPPs and demand that Ontario create “fair and reasonable adjustments” for places of worship.

Collins said in a statement Friday that he wanted to thank the provincial government for listening to their concerns.

“While there have been a few exceptions, faith communities have been exemplary in protecting congregants through strict health and safety measures,” Collins said.

“In our own case, close to 10,000 volunteers sanitize our 225 churches after every service, masks are worn, seating is staggered so parishioners can physically distance, and services have been modified to ensure that we can worship safely.”

Mayor John Tory tweeted Friday afternoon commending the Ford government for listening to religious leaders.

“I have heard from many faith leaders advocating for this change and committing to conducting services while respecting all public health advice. I have taken note of the extraordinary measures different faith groups have in place to keep worshippers safe,” Tory said.

“Faith is so important, especially during difficult times, and I know people want to gather safely to celebrate their faith. I am glad more of them will now be able to do so.”

Markus de Domenico, a trustee with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, praised the move as well.

“I think what the province is realizing is that faith and the expression of faith are very important to people in dark times,” he said. “It’s a natural throughout history, you see it all the time, people gravitating more and more to faith, for answers to the unknown.”


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