Western Australian Police Halt Church Service to Enforce Mask Wearing

Western Australian Police Halt Church Service to Enforce Mask Wearing
A family praying at church. (John Neff/Adobe Stock)
Daniel Khmelev

Western Australia (WA) police officers have interrupted a church service to enforce rules requiring mask-wearing indoors.

Perth churchgoer Matthew said he had attended evening mass at St Bernadette’s Glendalough church on Thursday, Feb. 3, but was left shocked after police paused the service to ask every attendee to put on a mask—or leave.

“It’s just really confronting, to be honest. I mean, you go to mass to worship God ... it’s pretty confronting seeing police vests in church,” Matthew told 6PR radio.

“It looks like something you'd expect from Eastern Europe from, you know, 30 years ago.”

Matthew said that after police walked in, one officer stood at the front of the church and addressed the congregation.

“[The officer] said to everyone, ‘There’s a report that people aren’t wearing masks. And I can see here that there are some people not wearing masks—if you’re not going to wear a mask, you need to leave.”

Western Australia mandated indoor mask-wearing not long after the state saw its first cases of the Omicron variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. As of Feb. 3, the state recorded 192 active cases.

“People are pretty taken aback by this, it’s pretty confronting, and it’s pretty troubling to see the liturgy that you love being stopped by a policeman. I’ve never seen anything like this. I don’t think many people have, certainly not in this country,” he said.

“He didn’t even remove his hat, which is pretty disrespectful in that environment.”

WA Police confirmed the details of the incident in an email to The Epoch Times.

“On Thursday evening, police responded to a report from a member of the public of people not wearing masks inside a church in Mount Hawthorn,” a WA Police spokesperson said.

“Upon attendance, five people were spoken to by police and complied in wearing a mask. One person provided proof of an exemption.”

The WA government has recently been criticised over its handling of the pandemic, such as restrictions on unvaccinated parents visiting their kids in the hospital, banning unvaccinated lawyers from going to court, and sending hundreds of school children home after three schools each recorded one case of the CCP virus.

Criticism has also been directed at the state’s decision to keep borders closed from the rest of Australia—despite initially promising to reopen on Feb. 5.

McGowan said this was necessary due to the inefficacy of double-dose vaccination against the Omicron variant, particularly given spiking cases in the eastern states, and aims to reconsider the border closures once 80 to 90 percent of the state’s residents receive their third, booster dose.

WA Premier Mark McGowan speaks during an announcement in Perth, Australia, on Dec. 13, 2021. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)
WA Premier Mark McGowan speaks during an announcement in Perth, Australia, on Dec. 13, 2021. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)
“We originally were going to open on February 5, but that was with the Delta spread of the virus. The Delta spread far more slowly than the Omicron strain. The Omicron strain, basically, is killing far more people than the Delta strain was far, far more people. And the hospitalisation Intensive Care Unit and ventilator rates went up by up to 900 percent,” McGowan told 6PR on Feb. 2.

Federal health advice is that Omicron is both milder and more transmissible than the Delta strain.

The WA government has also been questioned over its failure to fix the state’s severely strained healthcare system given the time it had available since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The state has had two years to prepare the health system to deal with the COVID outbreak, and this raises questions as to why they apparently remain so ill-prepared to deal with the far milder Omicron variant,” Australian Industry Group WA Head Kristian Stratton said amid concerns the measures would slam businesses.
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