As Easter approaches, state extends gathering limits to churches to prevent viral spread

Gov. Laura Kelly has removed the exemption of religious organizations from the state’s prohibition of gatherings of 10 people or more people during the Covid-19 outbreak.

She explained the decision in a press conference Tuesday.

She said as religious ceremonies were responsible for a quarter of the states infection clusters, or groups of people getting infected from a single source. She said with the projected peak of infections in Kansas approaching and this week being holy week, the risk of infections from larger gatherings would be high,making the decision necessary.
“This was a difficult decision and could not come at a more disappointing time,” Kelly said adding that Kansans are a religious people and draw strength from their faith and religious leaders. She iterated that the rule does not ban religious ceremonies or funerals, only limits attendance to 10 people. The rule extends to funerals as well.
”I’m wholly committed to protecting Kansas’ religious liberty as Governor. Both conducting and attending religious services remains a designated essential function and cannot be prohibited by local orders.”
She said she spoke with several leaders of religious faith before the order and said almost all had already limited gatherings. “I’m uplifted by their creativity and resolve,” she said listing actions churches had taken such as using facebookl ive or having drive up sermons to spread their message in times of social distancing.

“Kansans of all faith positions are taking alternative forms of worship as they recognize the physical church itself, while sacred and beloved ,has never defined their deep and abiding faith.
She said she strongly encouraged all faith leaders to embrace practicing religious activities through alternative methods such as over the internet.
She said that Easter holds a deep meaning to thousands of Kansas whether religious or secular.
She said the Covid-19 precautions had put many traditions on hold for the state.

“The disruptions created by this global public health crisis have forced us all to approach it differently, regardless of our religious belief…Many religious texts call on us to love our neighbors as ourselves,” she said. “So although it will happen virtually this year we will continue to celebrate each other and worship with one another and pray for each other on Easter Sunday and always.

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