COVID-19 Update: GraceLife Church violates closure order again | Casinos, bingo halls readying to reopen

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With news on COVID-19 happening rapidly, we’ve created this page to bring you our latest stories and information on the outbreak in and around Calgary.


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Jailed pastor calls in to service as GraceLife Church violates COVID-19 closure order for sixth time

An Alberta Health Services closure order is visible posted on the front door of GraceLife Church, in Spruce Grove Friday March 5, 2021. GraceLife church Pastor James Coates lost an appeal of his bail conditions on Friday. Coates has been jailed in the Edmonton Remand Centre for the past two weeks after continuing to hold worship services without face masks, capacity limits, or physical distancing.
An Alberta Health Services closure order is visible posted on the front door of GraceLife Church, in Spruce Grove Friday March 5, 2021. GraceLife church Pastor James Coates lost an appeal of his bail conditions on Friday. Coates has been jailed in the Edmonton Remand Centre for the past two weeks after continuing to hold worship services without face masks, capacity limits, or physical distancing. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

A Parkland County church held another packed service Sunday morning with its jailed pastor on the phone despite a closure order for COVID-19 restriction violations.

Vehicles packed the parking lot of GraceLife Church before the service and two marked RCMP vehicles were on site. People could be seen singing unmasked, breaking COVID-19 orders, on a livestream of the service.

This was the third-straight service held without church pastor James Coates who remains in the Edmonton Remand Centre. Coates was charged for breaching COVID-19 orders on Feb. 7 and was taken into custody on Feb. 16 after another service was held.

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Associate pastor Jacob Spenst conducted Sunday’s service, but said Coates was joining in over the phone although he didn’t speak.

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Casinos and bingo halls readying to reopen as Alberta government forecasts rebound in gaming revenue

An electronic gambling gaming device is shown next to an ATM bank machine at the grand opening of the Century Downs Casino just north of Calgary on April 1, 2015.
An electronic gambling gaming device is shown next to an ATM bank machine at the grand opening of the Century Downs Casino just north of Calgary on April 1, 2015. Photo by Jim Wells /Postmedia, file

Alberta bingo hall operators are readying for a potential influx of visitors if they’re allowed to open in Alberta’s next phase of reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Edmonton’s Castledowns Bingo Hall manager Brenda Pope said Saturday even after the majority of Albertans are immunized, the hall will still need to enforce strict safety precautions, from temperature checks to sanitizing some high-touch surfaces every 20 minutes.

“We want to make sure we’re still being cautious. So the new normal is going to be much different than the old normal,” said Pope.

Casinos, racetracks and bingo halls were among those originally set to reopen at the beginning of March, but are now slated to reopen as part of Alberta’s Step 3, which could come by the end of March.

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Saturday

Alberta vaccine timelines raise questions on when children could get the jab

Students wearing masks enter Westgate School guided by staff on their first day back on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.
Students wearing masks enter Westgate School guided by staff on their first day back on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Postmedia

All Alberta adults will able to get their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced earlier this week, with potential for that timeline to accelerate even further.

But when will those under the age of 18 be able to get the jab?

The answer will depend on results from clinical trials by vaccine producers, according to University of Manitoba virologist Jason Kindrachuk.

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“Now we need to figure out whether vaccines are efficacious in kids,” Kindrachuk said. “I think we’re looking at probably within, I would say the next few months, we should have data about what the efficacy looks like in kids. And that’s really the question mark.

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Saturday

341 new cases, one death

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Saturday

Bowness High School students shifting to online learning following COVID-19 outbreak

Bowness High School was photographed on Tuesday, November 24, 2020.
Bowness High School was photographed on Tuesday, November 24, 2020. Photo by Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

A COVID-19 outbreak at Bowness High School is forcing students back to online instruction come Monday, according to a letter sent to parents on Friday.

Alberta Health places schools on outbreak status when five or more cases are confirmed.

Classes will move online until March 17 when in-person learning may resume, according to Bowness Principal Jana Macdonald, who said there had been a “a number of cases in a short time frame” at the northwest school.

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Saturday

Swedish police break up coronavirus demonstration in Stockholm

Swedish police break up a demonstration of coronavirus restrictions opponents protesting against a ban on large gatherings, in Stockholm, Sweden March 6, 2021.
Swedish police break up a demonstration of coronavirus restrictions opponents protesting against a ban on large gatherings, in Stockholm, Sweden March 6, 2021. Photo by TT NEWS AGENCY /via REUTERS

Swedish police on Saturday dispersed hundreds of opponents of coronavirus restrictions who staged a protest in the capital Stockholm in defiance of a ban on large gatherings.

Police blocked a bridge in the centre of the city and said on their website they were in dialog with organizers to persuade demonstrators to disperse.

TV images showed police shoving some protesters. The police said six officers were injured, one of whom was taken to hospital. Fifty people were moved on under a temporary pandemic law.

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Saturday

Paris police clear Seine riverside over lack of social distancing

People gather on the banks of the River Seine on a sunny afternoon in Paris, on March 6, 2021, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
People gather on the banks of the River Seine on a sunny afternoon in Paris, on March 6, 2021, amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo by BERTRAND GUAY /AFP via Getty Images

French police cleared the banks of the River Seine in central Paris on Saturday over concerns people were getting too close together and not respecting coronavirus social distancing rules.

Hundreds of people were asked to leave the area – popular for strolling and picnicking on sunny days – and police officers closed the riverbanks for the rest of the day.

“Social distancing rules are not being respected,” police called out through a megaphone.

The police has regularly been clearing the area over the past few weeks with warmer weather bringing people out to take advantage of the sunshine before a curfew kicks in from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

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