Charlottetown mosque requiring proof of vaccination

·2 min read
Muslims attending the Masjid Dar As-Salam mosque in Charlottetown have to bring their own prayer rugs and leave physical distance among worshippers.  (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)
Muslims attending the Masjid Dar As-Salam mosque in Charlottetown have to bring their own prayer rugs and leave physical distance among worshippers. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)

Worship ceremonies on P.E.I. are exempt from the P.E.I. Vax Pass regulations, but one religious group is requiring proof of double vaccination from worshippers.

Muslims attending the Masjid Dar As-Salam mosque have followed guidelines like face masks and physical distancing since the start of the pandemic — they must even bring their own prayer rugs.

"We have asked that everybody should be double vaccinated, so we can minimize the contact and spread of COVID-19," Muslim Society of P.E.I. president Dr. Najam Chishti said.

The society has had the requirement in place since the province brought in the P.E.I. Vax Pass program a week ago.

"It's for the safety of everybody, and people have been receptive. They've all abided by this. And those who do not want to come to the mosque, they still are praying from home ... Yes, it's your choice. But stay home."

Rules elsewhere being revisited

This comes as vaccination rules for religious ceremonies are being re-examined in some other provinces, including New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador where recent outbreaks have been linked to church gatherings.

Jane Robertson/CBC
Jane Robertson/CBC

Both provinces have now given religious organizations an option to either require proof of vaccination or lower capacity, and bring back other restrictions.

P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office says it already has a long list of rules in place for religious gatherings, including masking, cohorting and physical distancing between households.

The lead pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Cornwall says he will continue to put his faith in the CPHO.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

"We'll do all that public health is asking us to do. We don't want to go out in front of them, nor do we want to lag behind and push against. So our approach has always been we will respond as public health makes the decisions," said Philip Woodworth.

Though some churches have at least wrestled with the idea of requiring vaccination.

Spring Park United Church recently sent a letter to its congregation saying the leadership had an open and honest conversation about it, but ultimately decided against it out of respect for personal choice.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

"We strive to find a balance between respecting individual choices and reminding everyone that as members of this community of faith, we need to look out for each other," the letter said.

"So we encourage you, if you are able to, please get vaccinated."

P.E.I. has not had any outbreaks stemming from religious gatherings.

Dr. Najam Chisti says the Muslim Society is doing its part to keep it that way.

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