The Supreme Court of Canada has decided not to hear an appeal by several churches that fought Manitoba's COVID-19 restrictions.

Lawyers for the churches argued public health orders in 2020 and 2021 that temporarily closed in-person religious services, then permitted them with caps on attendance, violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

They lost that argument in two lower courts.

The Manitoba Court of Appeal ruled last year the restrictions were necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and allowable under the Charter.

The Supreme Court of Canada, as per its usual practice, did not disclose details as to why it has decided not to hear the case.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Calgary-based legal advocacy group that worked with the churches, says it is disappointed with the high court's decision.

"The applicants' legal team believed the case was critically important, as it could have served as guidance for governments in crafting public health measures," read a press release from the centre Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2024