Easter is one of the most important days in the Christian faith, and one of the highest-attended church days of the year each year. But this year, if you live in Kentucky, attending that service while under the state’s stay-at-home order will find you tracked and flagged by police.
Gov. Andy Beshear announced the policy during his Friday coronavirus briefing, during which he was open about his frustration with the churches that have not agreed to suspend services.
Police will be monitoring and recording the license plate numbers of people who choose to attend “mass gatherings” like Easter church service, and then health officials will be dispatched to their homes to put them onto a 14-day “self quarantine” in order to ensure that each person’s decision to attend does not “kill somebody else,” said the governor in his explanation.
Beshear began by saying that the virus is still very deadly, even with the social distancing that is already in place. “But it would be so much more deadly if you weren’t doing what you’re doing,” he said. “And how it is deadly is being spread through people, especially through crowds. I hope everybody knows that even on a weekend like this, we cannot have in-person gatherings of any type.”
“I want to thank our faith community out there,” said Beshear. “We got a lot of churches in this state, we’re down to just about seven that are thinking about having an in-person service, and we absolutely cannot bring people together in one building like that, because that is how the coronavirus spreads, and that’s how people die.”
“It is on every individual. That’s what one of our orders is about: not to go to a mass gathering,” he said. “And it’s not just the person that’s holding it, but every individual that goes to one of these will spread it to other individuals.”
Beshear addressed the objections that have been coming up, mostly on the right, that going to church during a stay-at-home order is some sort of demonstration of liberty or choice.
“And I, I guess I hear that there are some individuals that say that this my choice about whether I go to something and get the coronavirus,” he said, “but it’s not the next person’s choice that you might spread it to, having gone to a gathering, getting it, and then going out whether it’s to work or to a grocery store or somewhere else.”
With that lengthy preamble, Beshear led into announcing the state’s new action this weekend.
“So we’re having to take a new action, that I hoped that we wouldn’t,” he said. “It’s that any individual that’s gonna participate in a mass gathering of any type that we know about this weekend. We are going to record license plates and provide it to local health departments, and local health departments are going to come to your door with an order for you to be quarantined for 14 days.”
“If you’re going to expose yourself to this virus, and you make that decision to do it, it’s not fair to everybody else out there that you might spread it to,” said the governor. “This is just an example of personal responsibility.”
He then held up a notice that will be posted to warn people that if they attend a mass gathering this will apply to them, that they’ll be placed in quarantine.
“Understand that this is the only way that we can ensure that your decision doesn’t kill somebody else,” he said. “That your decision to go to a mass gathering doesn’t negate the sacrifice of every other house of worship, 99.99 percent in this state that are choosing to do the right thing.”
He then went on to rebuke those with such plans.
“Folks, we shouldn’t have to do this. What we’re asking you to do is not to harm other people,” he said. “It’s to love your neighbor as yourself.”
He talked about his own plans, including the baptism of his oldest child that they won’t be able to do. And he concluded with a remark about what really is the test of faith on this holy day.
“I think it is not a test of faith in whether you’re going to an in-person service. It’s a test of faith that you’re willing to sacrifice to protect your fellow man, your fellow woman, your fellow Kentuckian, and your fellow American.”
Watch the clip above, via the governor’s office on YouTube.