Authorities shut down a church in Alberta, Canada, on Wednesday that has continued to defy lockdown orders, resulting in the imprisonment of its pastor for more than a month.
Gracelife Church in Edmonton was raided by police on Wednesday and blocked off with fencing.
Alberta Health Services said it "physically closed" the church and will continue to keep it closed until it "can demonstrate the ability to comply with Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health's restrictions."
Gracelife's pastor, James Coates, was arrested and "tried in secret," according to his wife, for violating COVID-19 lockdown measures by continuing to meet. After 35 days, Coates was finally released at the end of March but faces trial in May.
Earlier this year, the church posted a statement where it argued no viral cases had been tracked back to the church despite meeting and declaring its intent to continue to violate what it sees as unlawful government orders.
"By the time the so-called 'pandemic'is over, if it is ever permitted to be over, Albertans will be utterly reliant on government, instead of free, prosperous, and independent," said the church. "As such, we believe love for our neighbor demands that we exercise our civil liberties."
Alberta, which has nearly 4.5 million residents across 255,000 square miles, had one death related to COVID-19 reported on Tuesday. Churches are only allowed to meet at 15% capacity under current mandates.