MONTRELAL -- The following is an open letter to Quebec Premier Francois Legault regarding limits on religious gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Mr. Premier,

We understand that our province is going through an unprecedented crisis and that leading a nation during a pandemic remains a huge challenge. We salute your courage in guiding major decisions that influence the future of millions of Quebecers.

We want to believe that these decrees are enlightened and informed by rules of justice and fairness. Let's get to the facts! Our province has just passed a milestone in terms of the constant increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 infection, which places us in the second wave requiring us to make sacrifices involving restrictions on our freedom of gatherings.

We expected Public Health to adopt consistent measures that reflect a consideration of the nature of environments that are not only more susceptible to outbreaks but have a history of such outbreaks.

Based on this approach, on Aug. 26, 2020, the government decreed that "places where people sit relatively still and speak little or nothing, such as concert halls, cinemas, theatres and audio-visual recording studios, may continue to accommodate a maximum of 250 people.

In its decree 2020-059, the ministry had inferred that religious activities met the latest descriptions: the faithful, according to the requirements of the law, sitting during ceremonies, respecting the physical distance of one and a half metres and religiously wearing their face coverings. To equate them with bar customers or citizens who irresponsibly hold private parties is not only unjust but reveals the government's closure to the religious fact that, nevertheless, is part of the instruments accompanying our citizens in their efforts to heal themselves in response to the psychological distress emanating from today's contexts.

We demand the following actions from the government:

  •  that it reverse its decision to limit attendance in places of worship to 50 or 25 people;
  • that it consider the activities of places of worship under the same provisions
  • governing theatres and cinemas;
  • in the event of a contagion in a place of worship, the same consistency that governs the closure of schools on a case-by-case basis when an outbreak occurs and not on a regional colour-coded or wall-to-wall basis.

We remain at the government's disposal for any fruitful exchange in this titanic effort to diminish the spread and win the war against Covid-19.

- Regroupement de leaders religieux