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COVID-19 Update: Information about gatherings for Easter, Passover and other faith-based holidays

HAMILTON, ON – The City of Hamilton and the Hamilton Police Service are reminding residents that gatherings of more than five people are currently illegal in Ontario. This holds true for private social family gatherings or religious celebrations for Easter, Passover or other faith-based holidays in April.

Under the provincial State of Emergency declaration, in order to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public, events of more than five people are prohibited, including parades, weddings, social gatherings and communal services within places of worship.

Residents organizing or attending gatherings of more than 5 people may be charged under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which carries a fine starting at $750. Hamilton Police and Hamilton Municipal Law Enforcement will be charging residents who do not abide by this law.

This law does not apply to private households with five of more people living in them.  

Residents celebrating Easter, Passover or other faith-based holidays are encouraged to find alternate and creative ways to celebrate, gather and worship during this time. Some recommendations:

  • Connect with your faith leader to learn about options for worship services via Zoom, Skype or other online channels.
  • Spend time with your family from a distance. Host a virtual family brunch or dinner online. Do not gather with those who don’t already live in your home.
  • Do not spend hours in the grocery store collecting every ingredient for a large family feast. Don’t rush out for chocolate, jellybeans and holiday trinkets. Only go to the store for essentials, and only when you absolutely need to.
  • Think of creative ways to keep your family traditions alive – like a virtual Easter egg hunt for children.

Residents are strongly encouraged to celebrate Easter, Passover and other faith-based holidays in a safe way, so these holidays do not lead to additional cases of COVID-19.

“Passover, Easter and Ramadan are fast approaching, and this year will mean celebrating in a way we haven’t done before. Families and friends should refrain from meeting in-person. Gatherings of more than five people are prohibited. You must maintain the two-metre social distance guideline. We will overcome this virus, but until we do each of us are part of the first line of defence. Now is the time to stay home and save lives.” - Mayor Fred Eisenberger, City of Hamilton

“Like many Christians, Roman Catholics in the Diocese of Hamilton are experiencing the pain of not being able to gather to publicly celebrate the most central feast of our faith: The Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In the present circumstances, we are encouraged to pray at home,  as families or individuals, using the Scripture readings and prayers which we would use if we were able to gather.  Many pastors have been able to provide streaming and online Masses and other adapted forms of prayer to support people’s personal prayer during these holiest of days in the Christian calendar.  Our Diocesan website (www.hamiltondiocese.com) lists many of these resources to draw us together spiritually when we are not able to gather physically.” - Monsignor Murray Kroetsch, The Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton

“Out of necessity, our worship practice is being transformed by our present circumstances but here's the thing: God is still here with us, leading us and guiding us. In such a time as this, not congregating together for worship, even for our most sacred observances, is the most generous and sacrificial love we can offer to those we love.  As tempting as it is to think that we are somehow exempt from the precautions that everyone else is taking – the fact is, we are absolutely not.  This is a time for compliance, and patience, and love of neighbour – albeit a transformed love of neighbour expressed in a physically distanced manner.” - The Right Reverend Susan Bell, Anglican Bishop of Niagara

“Passover celebrates the gift of freedom and our ability to break free from the forces that shackle our inner potential. In Ancient Egypt, on the fateful night of their freedom, the Jews were instructed to remain within the confines of their homes. They celebrated their Passover Seder in seclusion. The message was stark: no matter what the constraints, our spirit must always soar. While the doors to our houses of worship may be closed, the gateways to both Heaven and our soul remain open. During these holidays, let our spirt soar with genuine connection. Songs, games, activities, and insights, to enhance the Passover Seder experience can be found on websites such as http://www.sederfun.ca” - Rabbi Daniel Green, Adas Israel Congregation and Dean of the Hamilton Hebrew Academy

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