Spiritual teams are calling for double requirements on Quebec’s COVID-19 capability rules

MONTREAL – Religious communities in Montreal are pushing for government policies they see as double standards.

Montreal is currently in the regional COVID-19 alert mode “Orange”, which means that places of worship are only allowed to accommodate a maximum of 25 people at a time. Bars, cinemas and concert halls in Quebec are now allowed to operate at a higher capacity.

A special challenge for synagogues on the holiest day of the year in Judaism, Yom Kippur, from Sunday to Monday evening.

“It’s a day that our synagogue usually houses about 2,000 people and this year, with all services, maybe 200 to 300,” said Rabbi Reuben Poupko of the Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation in Cote St-Luc.

The Orthodox synagogue has set up tents and will hold services in shifts of 25.

Poupko said he found it puzzling how houses of prayer differ from theaters or cinemas where 250 people can gather at the same time.

“We stopped singing together. We basically sit in the same room and read together. But from a government perspective, there is a difference between the two,” he said.

The Council of Hasidic Jews of Quebec agreed on this issue, saying in a statement: “If the Department of Health deems it safe that certain industries remain open for gatherings of up to 250 people plus staff, places of worship should be included. It is unacceptable to aim at places of worship. “

St. James United Church has held services online since closing in March. His community is suffering, said Pastor Arlen Bonnar.

“The challenge there has always been not just the service, but the community that we miss because we do things virtually. I think this is a fight for all of us, ”said Bonnar.

A recent study shows that 40 percent of Canadians believe COVID-19 has had a significant impact on their lives.

“A majority of people who felt there was a big change said it was due to lack of interaction with family and friends and varying degrees of isolation,” said Jack Jedwab of the Association for Canadian Studies, who wrote the study.

All of these religious leaders said they will continue to respect the government’s guidelines despite the effects.

“It is also important that we become a role model in the community of what it means to live our lives as people of faith with integrity,” said Bonnar, “in order to protect not only ourselves, but the community as a whole.”

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