Church of pastor jailed for holding services is fenced off by police

Pastor James Coates was detained for several weeks by police as his church continued to hold in-person services exceeding the cap set by authorities.(Photo: YouTube)

Canadian police have fenced off a church that has continued to hold in-person services during the pandemic. 

A metal fence was placed around GraceLife Church in Edmond, Alberta, days after the building was closed by the state's health services, the Edmonton Journal reports.

The fencing extended to the parking lot and parts of the driveway. 

"This was done to ensure the entire premises subject to the executive officer order's closure is secure and access to the public is closed off," James Wood, spokesman for Alberta Health Services told the newspaper. 

Hundreds have gathered outside the church in recent days to protest the forced closure, although GraceLife church has said that its congregants did not participate.

Video footage showed protesters tearing down the metal fencing. 

GraceLife church was charged by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police last month for holding worship services in February that exceeded the attendance cap of 15% capacity.

In February, the church's pastor James Coates was detained by police for breaching Covid-19 regulations relating to public worship, but was released a month later. 

GraceLife continues to defend its actions, saying in a statement on its website: "It is apparent that the negative effects of the government lockdown measures on society far surpass the effects of Covid-19.

"The science being used to justify lockdown measures is both suspect and selective. In fact, there is no empirical evidence that lockdowns are effective in mitigating the spread of the virus.

"We are gravely concerned that Covid-19 is being used to fundamentally alter society and strip us all of our civil liberties.

"By the time the so-called 'pandemic' is over, if it is ever permitted to be over, Albertans will be utterly reliant on government, instead of free, prosperous, and independent.

"As such, we believe love for our neighbor demands that we exercise our civil liberties. We do not see our actions as perpetuating the longevity of Covid-19 or any other virus that will inevitably come along.

"If anything, we see our actions as contributing to its end – the end of destructive lockdowns and the end of the attempt to institutionalize the debilitating fear of viral infections."