Alberta Health Services physically closes Fairview Baptist Church, prevents access to building

A church that has repeatedly defied the province’s public health restrictions has been closed by Alberta Health Services, the health authority said in a release issued Saturday.

On Saturday, AHS said it had physically closed the church and would prevent access to the building until the church’s pastor, Tim Stephens, could “demonstrate the ability to comply with these restrictions.”

AHS said services that have exceeded allowed capacities have taken place at Fairview Baptist each Sunday for months with minimal or no masking or physical distancing occurring.

It said 57 public complaints have been received in regards to the church.

The province currently allows places of worship to operate at 15 per cent of fire code occupancy under the Stage 1 reopening plan.

It’s slated to grow to one-third of fire code occupancy under Stage 2, which is expected to start on June 10.

Fairview Baptist Church did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Stephens was arrested in May after months of encouraging church congregants to break public health rules.

Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church in southeast Calgary was arrested on Saturday after months of breaking pandemic health restrictions. 1:04

Those charges were later dropped because Stephens wasn’t properly served with a court order instructing him to follow the public health rules.

Stephens was previously fined and ticketed for defying public health regulations by holding over-capacity gatherings and not enforcing mask use.

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