Kentucky Police Wait Outside for Those Attending Easter Church Gatherings Due to Coronavirus Guidelines

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear's 'stay-at-home' order for the state included bans on mass gatherings [...]

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear's "stay-at-home" order for the state included bans on mass gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, but some churchgoers ignored the orders. Beshear announced Friday he would sent Kentucky State Troopers to churches to record the license plate numbers of anyone who attended in-person church services, and he followed through. Troopers put notices telling churchgoers to quarantine themselves for 14 days or face "further enforcement measures" on cars.

At the Maryville Baptist Church in Hillview, Kentucky, Rev. Jack Roberts defied Beshear's orders, and two state troopers parked their cars outside the church, reports the Louisville Courier Journal. Roberts and several parishoners covered their license plate numbers, but police took down VIN numbers instead. Beshear has not said what he plans to do with the license plate numbers, but on Friday he said anyone who goes to an in-person church service Sunday needs to quarantine themselves for two weeks. The order did not apply to drive-in services though.

"If you're going to expose yourself to this virus, it's not fair to everybody else out there that you might spread it to," Beshear said Friday, reports "Understand, this is the only way we can ensure your decision doesn't kill somebody else." The notice left on car windshields Sunday reminded people about the self-quarantine order.

Sgt. Josh Lawson of Kentucky State Police told the Courier Journal their posts responded to only about two to five complaints about church services Sunday. The only place where they found violations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines was at Maryville. Most other churches were holding drive-in services, where people listened to services through outdoor speakers like at a drive-in movie theater. Those services "were specifically mentioned by the governor as being allowed," Lawson noted.

Beshear's decision to record license plate numbers drew criticism from Republicans in Kentucky who felt he was infringing on the right to religious freedom, but he said Saturday that most religious groups were following guidelines to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Beshear said he would not "padlock doors or arrest pastors" though.

"To our knowledge, 99.89% of all churches and all synagogues and all mosques in Kentucky have chosen to do the right thing," Beshear said Saturday. "I'm just doing my best to save lives. And there aren't easy answers."

On Sunday, Beshear said Kentucky now has 1,960 coronavirus cases, with 289 people currently hospitalized, reports Local12. The state's death toll reached 97 people Sunday. The governor also announced a partnership with Kroger to add drive-thru testing at the supermarkets starting Monday in Frankfort. Each site can test up to 250 people a day and results will come in within 48 hours.