'No records' on church choirs spreading COVID

While Nova Scotia did not impose a mask mandate on singing or chanting by a performer or officiant during religious services during its wide-sweeping public health mandates, the province's chief medical officer of health had previously blamed 'faith gatherings' for a rise in coronavirus cases.

'No records' on church choirs spreading COVID
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Nova Scotia's government has confirmed it has “no records” that singing in a choir at a faith gathering spreads COVID-19.

The lack of records turned up in response to the following Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request:

Please provide all records that support that singing in a choir at a faith gathering spreads COVID-19. 

And please provide all records on how many COVID-19 cases have been as a result of singing in a choir at a faith gathering. (Date Range for Record Search: From 12/31/2019 To 12/30/2021).

Here's how the province's Department of Health and Wellness responded:

After a file search, we have located no records responsive to your application. Therefore, it is my understanding, pursuant to clause 7(2)(b) of the Act, that Health and Wellness does not have custody or control of records which would respond to your application.

Decisions related to public heath restrictions are based on publicly available national and international guidance as well as published literature. 

I am unaware of a department or agency which would hold such records.

The Atlantic province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, once blamed “several clusters of cases” on “several faith groups that participated recently in a single multi-day event.”

Until March 21, 2022, under a reopening plan, the province required congregations to wear masks while singing, but allowed choirs to remove their masks. This mandate has since been lifted.

Previous mask mandates for faith gatherings — of which such gatherings were later restricted to a total of five people — did not require “a performer or officiant” to wear a mask while singing or chanting as part of the service.

Weston Christian Fellowship Church in Berwick, Nova Scotia was visited by local RCMP last year, resulting in over $100,000 in COVID tickets for both the church and its congregation for breaking provincial protocols.

In 2020, the mayor of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan called for “strict consequences” for Full Gospel Outreach after the church, linked to a COVID outbreak, confirmed that their singers did not wear masks.

The Democracy Fund, a registered Canadian charity with a focus on civil liberties, is helping both the Weston Christian Fellowship Church and Full Gospel Outreach fight their fines. To help cover the legal fees for defending these tickets, please visit FightTheFines.com to make a tax receipt-eligible donation.

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  • By Ezra Levant

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