Parts of the article taken from the Montreal Gazette
Following an injunction filed by the Shuls of Montreal against the government of Quebec due to tough covid-19 restrictions on houses of worship, the judge said today in a hearing that she will give a ruling on the case on Thursday or Friday.
After hearing oral arguments via video-conference on Monday, Justice Chantal Masse said, “It is on my shoulders now.” Last week, Justice Masse ruled that the government’s curfew which was imposed on January 8 was unfair to the homeless.
The Hasidic Jewish Council of Quebec has brought the case seeking an exemption on the limit of 10 people who can be inside a place of worship. The lawyer representing the group, Sylvain Lanoix, argued that there is no proof that places of worship contributed to the spread in COVID-19 in the city to restrict the right to practice their religion.
The plaintiffs argued that collective prayer is central to Orthodox Jewish faith and restricting it represents “a prejudice” towards religion.
The Council argued as well that some shuls have enough space in separate parts of the building to allow multiple groups of 10 to pray together while following health protocols. Confusion over this issue very issue caused the Montreal police break up gatherings in several synagogues two weeks ago.
While funerals or meetings of community organizations may have 25 people in attendance, only 10 worshippers may attend a shul that can space out three groups of 10 safely. Lanoix argued this is not sensible.
The Quebec government lawyer stated that gatherings during the year end celebrations were “the turning point” of the spread, and only conceded that the matter is a “serious” one, a criterion for a court to hear a request for an injunction.