Mr. Doug Downey (Barrie - Springwater - Oro-Medonte)
Ms. Andrea Khanjin (Barrie - Innisfil)
March 1, 2021
As you know the Provincial Government has announced that Simcoe-Muskoka will be returning to the grey lockdown zone as of 12:01 a.m. March 1, 2021.
I am writing to seek your support in permitting places of worship to continue to gather, even if the limits are dropped from the previous 30% to 25% capacity restriction (being consistent with non-essential retail stores). It goes without saying that the safety protocols that have been stipulated will be followed. These include:
I find it discriminatory that a grocery store can have 50% capacity, which in the case of my usual grocery store is 200 people and a worship space is limited to 10 people.
During the six months that we were permitted to open for public worship, we never reached 200 people. In the worship space I have less opportunity to come in contact with others than I do inside a grocery store. I have fewer touch points in a place of worship and I am always six feet away from those who are not in my household. This is not the case in all retail stores and certainly not the case in big box stores.
In recent days big box stores in Simcoe County have had outbreaks and yet they are permitted to remain open. The inconsistent messaging is confusing, unhelpful and discriminates against people of faith.
I am calling upon you to advocate for places of worship, so that those who believe religious services are essential to the spiritual and mental health of their members may be given the support and guidance they are entitled to.