Locking or fencing off rebel churches under consideration in Chatham-Kent

Lockdown Protest Sign (BlackburnNews.com photo)

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is looking at tougher measures for repeat offenders of the Reopening Ontario Act.

Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire said locking churches and even putting up fencing to stop services could be considered by the municipality after a member of the Old Colony Mennonite Church in Dresden and another member of the same church in Wheatley were recently charged following illegal services held on consecutive Sundays.

Alberta Health Services closed Grace Life Church just outside of Edmonton last month and surrounded it with fencing after church officials continued to refuse to follow mandatory public health restrictions.

Shropshire said the municipality is doing everything possible to try and work with people, including education and warnings, but he reminds the public that there are increasing fines and penalties for those who continue to disregard the public health and safety rules, up to and including jail time. He said that should serve as a deterrent, if it hasn’t already.

“Whether it’s a church or a private business, we’re trying to make sure that people have the information up front,” said Shropshire. “It’s not like people don’t understand the demands or the requirements for people going to church or running a business, it’s just how do we do it safely.”

Many members of the public have been voicing their concern on social media with repeat offenders ignoring the COVID-19 health and safety laws and are asking for tougher measures.

Meantime, Shropshire confirmed on Thursday that a second charge has been laid in connection to a massive anti-lockdown protest held at Tecumseh Park in Chatham April 26, 2021. No names have been released yet and the investigation continues.

More information from the municipality is expected before the weekend.