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A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 is posted on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

The RCMP say they have served tickets totalling $18,400 to representatives from three places of worship in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley for violating public-health orders.

The Mounties say in a news release the churches were hosting in-person gatherings contrary to provincial orders intended to protect people from COVID-19.

On the Sunday mornings of Dec. 6 and Dec. 13, officers in Chilliwack responded to reports of people gathering at three separate churches contrary to the health orders.

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Police say they charged representatives of the congregation on Thursday with eight counts of failure to comply with an order of a health officer, including the fines.

There were 624 new cases of COVID-19 reported Friday and 11 additional deaths, for a total of 724 fatalities.

A joint statement from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix on Friday says 2,592 doses of vaccine have been given so far.

“The focus of our immunization program right now is to safely protect as many people as possible as efficiently as we can, but we have to remember that this is a global effort with many aspects often changing,” the statement says.

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