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Go To Church, Risk Being Quarantined, Kentucky Governor Says

April 11, 2020, 12:23 AM

Kentucky law enforcement will monitor and issue quarantine orders to those who attend “mass gathering” Easter Sunday services, Gov. Andy Beshear said Friday.

The state knows of seven churches that plan for such services in violation of the state’s shelter-in-place and social distancing orders meant to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, Beshear said. Law enforcement officers will record license plate numbers of attendees, and county health officials will use vehicle owners’ addresses to issue 14-day quarantine orders on their homes, Beshear (D) said.

“We absolutely can’t bring people together in one building like that because that is how the coronavirus spreads and that is how people die,” said Beshear (D), a church deacon. “This is the only way that we can assure that your decision doesn’t kill someone else.”

Many congregations in this religious state have turned toward Internet streaming services, or drive-in services where people congregate to hear a sermon while parked in their vehicles. Drive-in services are permitted, so long as people remain in their vehicles, Beshear said. But some local officials, including Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer (D), have prohibited drive-in church services altogether.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) have said that prohibiting drive-in services may violate the U.S. Constitution. When asked about Fischer’s order covering Kentucky’s largest city, Beshear said he wouldn’t criticize the major for “doing everything he believes he needs to do to keep his people safe.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ebert in Columbus, Ohio at aebert@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tina May at tmay@bloomberglaw.com