‘Lockdowns are over, in the name of Jesus’: Australian police fine church & ban services for openly defying Covid restrictions
Police have imposed a week-long operations ban on a church outside Sydney, Australia after its pastor held a sermon in violation of health orders and urged followers to defy the city’s strict lockdown rules.
The seven-day operations ban was handed to the Christ Embassy church in Blacktown, a suburb of Sydney, the New South Wales (NSW) police said on Wednesday.
The officers were alerted on Sunday night that the church was open in violation of public health orders. They said around 60 adults and children participated in the sermon, despite NSW lockdown rules ordering places of worship closed to the public but allowing services to be livestreamed.
According to Australian media, pastor Marvin Osaghae rallied against quarantine restrictions, proclaiming that “lockdowns are over in the cities of NSW, in the name of Jesus.”
“Businesses are returning to normal, every park is coming back alive, the streets are coming back alive,” the pastor was quoted as telling worshippers. “We refuse every lockdown,” he stated.
Christ Embassy is a megachurch with a main headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria.
When the officers arrived, they fined 30 people $1,000 each (US$725) and the church $5,000 (US$3,630) for breaking Covid regulations. On Wednesday, police handed an additional $500 (US$362) fine to 27 of the same attendees for not wearing a mask.
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The illegal gathering at the church was condemned by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who said it was “very disheartening” to see people blatantly defy the lockdown.
“Regardless of whether it is a soccer match, a church service, it doesn’t matter – you cannot gather, as they did, at Blacktown,” NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said.
NWS police stepped up its fight against Covid rule-breakers. Stories reported by the media include a person being fined for walking a dog maskless and a couple being given a fine for eating at an open-air market.
Major cities Sydney and Melbourne extended lockdowns and imposed curfews last week after registering new cases of the more contagious Delta variant of the virus. The country’s capital, Canberra, went into a lockdown this month after just one Delta infection was recorded in the city.
Canberra health officials reported nine new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of active cases in the capital territory to 176.
Anti-lockdown protests were held in Sydney and Melbourne over the weekend, with some attendees clashing with police.
Overall, Australia has had 45,750 infections since the start of the pandemic and 984 deaths.
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Source:RT World News