Police visit, leave Calgary church that was allegedly not following COVID-19 restrictions

Calgary police said Sunday they responded to a religious gathering allegedly in contravention of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions the previous day.

An officer and representatives from Alberta Health Services and city bylaw went to Street Church, located at 4315 26 Ave. S.E.

In a video posted online by pastor Artur Pawlowski, authorities are seen leaving the church after the pastor yells at them to get out, calling them “Nazis” and “Gestapo.”

“The organizer of the gathering was uncooperative with the health inspector and repeatedly raised his voice asking all parties to leave the premises, which they did approximately one minute after entry and in a peaceful manner,” police said.

Read more: ‘Caring for others’: Mosque, synagogue advise Alberta church to follow COVID 19 rules

Officers said no tickets were issued at the time, adding that it’s up to the police’s partner agencies to determine further steps.

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An AHS spokesperson said a health inspector was not allowed inside the church so they were unable to confirm if orders were being followed.

“Our inspectors have an important job to do, and we ask that business owners and organizations treat them with respect,” AHS said in an email.

“We stand by all of our public health inspectors who are doing an incredible job in trying and challenging circumstances. AHS is continuing work on enforcement options.”

Read more: Calgary church leader discourages thinking with ‘toxic individuality,’ encourages community

While the majority of Calgarians are understanding and co-operative, police said they often respond to these cases to “keep the peace due to high levels of conflict between citizens and health inspectors.”

“We understand the pandemic has caused great disruption to all Calgarians in their professional and personal lives,” police said in a news release, adding that the public health orders are in place to “ensure everyone’s safety.”

“We do not wish to disrupt anyone’s holidays or religious or spiritual events, however, we must support our partner agencies when called upon to help ensure everyone can safely celebrate these occasions.”

Global News has reached out to Street Church and will update this story if we receive a response.

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Since Dec. 13, 2020, religious services are limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy. Physical distancing between households must be maintained and masks are mandatory, according to the Alberta government.

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