New Zealand’s High Court has ruled that government officials were not acting unlawfully when they restricted and regulated religious services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The court acknowledged that rules curtailed the protected right to “manifest religious beliefs” but deemed that allowable in a health emergency.
Starting in December 2021, the New Zealand government limited religious gatherings to 100 vaccinated people or 25 unvaccinated people. Face masks were also required if the house of worship shared the site with any other groups. The government’s director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, deemed religious gatherings “high risk” because of the presence of elderly and immune-compromised people.
Some religious leaders complained the restrictions were reminiscent of Nazi Germany, and one was briefly jailed for refusing to comply.
Twenty-four Christian pastors and one Muslim imam sued Chris Hipkins, the minister for COVID-19 response, and Bloomfield, claiming…