Chatham-Kent Police have charged two churches for violating provincial public health measures under the Reopening Ontario Act.
Both the Old Colony Mennonite Church in Wheatley and the Old Colony Mennonite Church on Cundle Line in Charing Cross were found to be holding public gatherings that exceeded the provincial capacity limits.
"I feel they do have their rights, but, at the same token, I feel they are endangering our healthcare system," said Dianne Schives, a local resident.
On Sunday, Police reported 128 vehicles were found at the Old Colony Mennonite Church on Wheatley Rd, in Wheatley. Police said no masks were worn indoors. A 51-year-old man from Merlin was charged for failing to comply. He will be required to attend Provincial Offences Court on June 23, 2021.
Additionally, charges were laid on the Old Colony Mennonite Church in Charing Cross after police found more than 100 people in the church. According to police, no one was wearing a mask. Another man from Merlin, was charged and was ordered to attend provincial offences court on July 7.
Last weekend, charges were laid against three locations of the Old Colony Mennonite Church in connection with exceeding capacity limits.
Under the current provincial rules, indoor and outdoor religious gatherings have a capacity of 10 people.
Under the Reopening Ontario Act, the minimum fine for hosting a gathering that violates capacity limits is $10,000. The maximum penalty is $100,000 and a year in jail.
"There's rules for a reason and I really believe that not following the rules is endangering other people," said Schives. "It's not about them, it's not about you, it's about our healthcare system."
CBC Windsor did reach out to the Old Colony Mennonite Church but a there has been no response.