Churches in the North and South Peace say they are making the best of new public health restrictions to curb rising COVID-19 numbers and hospitalizations in areas of Northern B.C.

Under the new orders, in effect until at least November 19th, churches have been told to move mass services back online, although worshippers may still attend individually for prayer.

Jared Keber, lead pastor for Bethel Pentecostal in Dawson Creek, said he understands the need for increased restrictions.

The “circuit breaker” measures affect everyone living in the region, not just the church, he added.

There were 218 cases of COVID-19 reported in Northeast B.C. between October 3rd to 9th, the latest available data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, including 115 cases in the North Peace, 100 in the South Peace, and 3 in Fort Nelson.

Across the Northern Health region, there were 880 active cases as of Monday, including 74 patients in hospital, 21 in critical care.

In Fort St. John, the Alliance Church was swift to change course and address how services would be handled digitally in a message to his congregation on YouTube.

“We’re not sure yet how this will affect the life of the church and various functions, and how it will all work out. We’re still waiting for clarification on a few things,” said Pastor Andrew McGregor.

“I recognize that this is difficult for everyone on various levels and different ways. There’s intensity and concern from the community about the rising levels of hospitalization and the number of people we’re losing to this virus here in the north.”