The wife of jailed Canadian Pastor James Coates spoke up regarding her husband's condition a week after the Edmonton Court of Queens Bench decided to keep him behind bars until his trial scheduled on May 3 to 5.
Erin Coates, the pastor's wife, told FaithWire via email that her husband had only been able to "go out" and "be able to be with his inmates" recently unlike when he arrived in prison in mid-February during which he had to be quarantined for two weeks. Back then, she said, he was allowed twice of 15-minute blocks outside his jail cell.
The pastor's wife said that due to the "high profile" nature of her husband's case, he was removed from sharing a cell with another inmate and was quarantined such that he "spent the majority of the two weeks alone". It was only this March 11 that Coates was joined to the rest of the inmates.
"Now, he gets about three hours out, in one-hour chunks. He is able to be with the inmates on his unit during this time," she said.
A mother of two, Mrs. Coates said she is able to talk to her husband through video calls but still "can't visit him because of COVID restrictions."
Coates'application for bail order release review condition was denied by Edmonton Court Justice Peter Michalyshyn last March 5 following two charges of non-compliance to COVID-19 restrictions and a criminal charge for non-compliance to the undertaking he made for his initial arrest last December. The charges were filed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Parkland following recommendations by the Alberta Health Services.
Days after the court's decision, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has posted a news release on their website on March 10 declaring that the Coates' congregation has also been charged for two accounts of violations against the Alberta Health Services COVID-19 restrictions.
"The legal counsel for GraceLife Church was served with a Summons to attend Stony Plain Provincial Court on May 5, 2021. GraceLife Church was charged as an entity for exceeding the 15% allowable capacity for the services held on Feb. 21 and Feb 28., 2021, contrary to section 73(1) of the Public Health Act," the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said.
"The Parkland RCMP supported the AHS investigation at GraceLife Church this past Sunday. The Church was non-compliant with the Public Health Order in that it was over the allowed capacity," it explained. "The RCMP members were present for public safety and to support AHS, and did not go inside the church."
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police added that investigation for GraceLife continues to be done by the Alberta Health Services. It stressed that further comments about the matter will not be provided further since "charges are now before the court."
Meanwhile, Faith Wire added in a separate report that the GraceLife Church was fined last December for $1,200 for exceeding the church occupancy limit of 15% and its last worship service with Coates on February 14 involved an estimate of 400 attendees.
In a public statement issued on February 7 and updated February 16 posted in its website, the GraceLife Church "addressed" their reasons for gathering as "a local church" after "having engaged in an immense amount of research, interacting with both doctors and frontline healthcare workers" that the "negative effects of the government lockdown measures on society far surpass the effects of COVID-19."
The church argued that there was no evidence lockdowns decreased COVID-19 cases and that the government control being set is an impediment on one's religious liberties.