Governor Kemp issued a statement this afternoon backing up his own Department of Public Health, the local medical community and local law enforcement’s call for no organizations to meet with ten or more people including churches. This however, is in direct conflict with Governor Kemp’s own shelter in place executive order, which he has defended in press conferences, that allows churches to meet. The Governor’s executive order allows churches to have more than ten in attendance, if the congregation is more than six feet apart.
Local law enforcement have received multiple calls of churches continuing to meet, some even in their cars, which health officials recommend against. This week a Bulloch county church, Redeeming Love Church of God the Bibleway, located on Highway 67 made national news for not complying with the orders and continuing to meet. After meeting with Sheriff Noel Brown, the church agreed to continue meeting and would comply with social distancing which they did on Wednesday night’s service.
Bulloch Sheriff Noel Brown Responds
In a statement released by Sheriff Brown on Thursday he explained that as part of the state’s executive order, churches may hold services with more than 10 people so long as the congregation maintains and observes social distancing, although, the Department of Public Health and his department strongly discourages these types of gatherings. He went on to explain that for now, the citations issued to Redeeming Love Church of God the Bibleway by GSP last week satisfies the violation of the state’s executive order and the church has now become compliant with social distancing inside the building.
In Kemp’s statement he noted that it has come to his attention that people are not complying to proper social distancing, even when they are in their cars. He noted children get out of the cars to play and go to the restroom. He stressed how bad of an idea this is and encourage citizens to NOT attend in person services of any type and instead watch the service online or listen to in on the phone.
It is not clear if Kemp plans to revise his executive order to align his new discovery on the concern of many health experts on continuing to allow churches to meet. Until then, regardless of his recommendations, churches like Redeeming Love Church of God the Bibleway will continue to meet, jeopardizing the health and safety of their congregations and all that they come in contact with.
Kemp Urges Georgians to Use Online or Call-In Religious Services
Atlanta, GA – Today Governor Brian P. Kemp urged Georgians to plan for online or call-in religious services, including Easter Sunday on April 12.
“I greatly appreciate faith leaders across our state who have made the tough decision to stop the spread of COVID-19 by suspending in-person religious services. Their leadership is literally saving lives,” said Governor Kemp. “To all Georgians celebrating Easter this Sunday, I am pleading with you to not attend any services in person. If you attend worship services in person, you risk exposure to coronavirus – potentially endangering your life, the lives of your neighbors, and your loved ones. I know this decision is difficult, but we will get through this together.”
For drive-in services, law enforcement have received reports that people are not staying in their vehicles. For example, people will leave their cars to let their children play, go to nearby restrooms, or otherwise congregate.