Aylmer Church of God issued a statement on Saturday, May 16, praising the Ontario government for amending COVID-19 emergency regulations to allow drive-in religious services.
The church has been holding such services for several weeks, in what appeared to be a contravention of those regulations. No charges have been laid though, and the church launched a legal challenge on the validity of the regulations.
In the church statement, Pastor Henry Hildebrandt said, “Earlier today, Ontario Premier Doug Ford signed an amendment to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act that provides guidelines and clear permission for all churches to hold drive-in or parking lot services.
“This is a direct answer to our prayers and we thank God for it. We are grateful to the Premier and his Cabinet for providing clarity for Christians across Ontario.
“The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (in particular, Lisa Bildy) have been instrumental in providing legal counsel and their assistance has been invaluable. This is an important step in the right direction as we navigate the process of reopening our churches across the province.
“Provinces across Canada and countries around the globe have endorsed drive-in services as a temporary measure as it allows for an expression of community without violating public health objectives.”
The amended regulations essentially reflect the rules followed by the church in its services: no one can get out of their own vehicles; and a team of no more than five individuals can be outside to lead the service, and they have to stay a minimum of two metres from each other at all times.
The amended regulation also requires vehicles to be parked at least two metres apart.