As a requirement to show proof of vaccination at many events comes into effect in British Columbia, members of the BC Humanist Association (BCHA) are calling for an end to an exemption for religious events.
BC's Vaccine Card is now required at a wide variety of indoor events with more than 50 people, including parties, conferences, wedding receptions, concerts and sporting events. However, Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry explicitly excluded "worship services" from her order.
Noting that fundamentalist religious communities are among the least likely to be vaccinated and indoor church services are hotbeds of COVID outbreaks, the BCHA has launched a petition calling for that loophole to be closed.
"Previous public health orders treated religious and secular gatherings equally," said BCHA Executive Director Ian Bushfield. "Everyone was forced to forego social gatherings through last fall and spring and masks are required regardless of the religious nature of the venue." He continued, "but now we're giving churches a pass that isn't being afforded to restaurants or theatres, despite those venues having to follow detailed public health guidelines."
The BCHA worries that the COVID-19 Delta variant could spread in unvaccinated populations at religious gatherings and infect others who are not eligible for vaccinations because of age or medical conditions.