Police in Kentucky recorded the license plate numbers on cars in church parking lots and ordered their owners to go into quarantine for having violated stay-at-home orders by packing into churches, USA Today reports.
Kentucky, like many states across the country, has issued orders intending to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Among other things, those orders ban “large gatherings” — including gathering at churches.
Last week, as reported by The Inquisitr, Governor Andy Beshear warned that anyone who violates those orders and goes to church in-person would be ordered to go into quarantine afterwards. Police would record the license plate numbers of cars parked in the churches’ parking lots as well.
On Easter Sunday, police followed through with that warning, recording license plate numbers and placing quarantine orders on the windshields of cars in churches’ parking lots.
In Maryville, at least 50 people went to church at Maryville Baptist Church. Some had tried to obscure their license plates; police simply recorded the cars’ Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) instead. What police intend to do with those records remains unclear, as of this writing.
Some worshipers said they had no intention of abiding by the quarantine notices attached to their cars.
“Everybody has to do what they feel comfortable with,” said the church’s pastor, Jack Roberts.
It seems as if, in Maryville anyway, at least one person tried to use some “extra-judicial” means to try to remind worshipers not to go to church. Roberts said several piles of nails had been dropped in places around the church’s parking lot.
The matter of scofflaws attending church despite orders not to was not limited to Maryville, however.
Sgt. Josh Lawson of Kentucky State Police said that in each of the division’s 16 units, officers responded to between 2 and 5 complaints each of cars in church parking lots.
Not all church leaders in The Bluegrass State defied orders not to hold services inside, though. In some churches across the state, for example, worshipers remained in their cars in church parking lots as their pastors broadcasted the service.
Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley said that state troopers — some of whom personally know church leaders in the region — talked pastors out of holding services inside and instead convinced them to opt for drive-in worship services.
The question of whether or not ordering churches to stay closed during a pandemic remains unsettled, as there’s no precedent for such a thing in the U.S. court.