Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has implored residents to avoid gathering this weekend for the Easter holidays, warning that anyone who violates the order to stay at the state house will be subject to a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine.
Beshear said the state would record the information on the license plates of those seen at the mass rallies and pass it on to local public health officials. The quarantine notices will then be delivered in person.
The announcement was made on Good Friday, one of the holidays leading up to Easter Sunday.
“I hope everyone knows that even on a weekend like this we cannot organize any gatherings in person,” said Beshear, adding that at least seven state churches were still planning to organize Easter services.
“We absolutely cannot bring people together in a building like this, because that is how coronavirus spreads, and that is how people die,” said Beshear.
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According to the governor, all of the mosques and synagogues in Kentucky have closed, and none plan to hold services this weekend.
Senator Rand Paul, a Republican recovering from a coronavirus, criticized Beshear’s order in a tweet.
“Take license plates from the church?” Quarantine someone to be a Christian on Easter Sunday? Someone has to take a step back here, ” Paul tweeted.
But Beshear, a Democrat, said that “it is not fair” for some people to violate the order to stay at the state house and risk spreading COVID-19 to others who follow the directive .
“This is just an example of personal responsibility,” said Beshear.
Kentucky had 1,693 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 90 deaths on Friday, according to figures from NBC News.
Preventing people from attending religious celebrations and other major events, including funerals, threatens the fight against coronavirus.
Public health officials have repeatedly warned against violating social distancing guidelines as more and more public events are recorded. In Chicago, at least 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been attributed to a single man who attended a dinner, funeral and birthday party, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three people died later.
However, some religious leaders remained provocative. A Florida pastor ignored the state’s stay at home directive and organized services for hundreds of worshipers last month. He was arrested and later agreed to run online services this weekend.
In Kansas, housekeeper Laura Kelly sued the Republican-controlled Legislative Coordinating Council, which overturned her decree, making it a crime to have more than 10 people at religious services or funerals.
In Louisiana, a pastor was quoted this month after organizing religious services for hundreds of people.
Across the country, some churches are planning to offer drive-in services this weekend if the plans are approved by their local governments.