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Gov. Kelly: Executive order ‘could not come at a more disappointing time’

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Multiple coronavirus outbreaks have been linked to church gatherings in Kansas. Now, the governor is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Governor Laura Kelly announced a new executive order Tuesday extending the 10-person limit on gatherings to churches and funerals.

Kelly said there have been three church events that have caused coronavirus to spread throughout each community. That makes up 25% of the big clusters the state is currently seeing.

“We hoped that there was not a need to do this, and it would just be self-regulation,” Kelly said.

She said most churches have already stopped letting members inside and have switched to live-streaming and even drive-in services.

“I strongly encourage all faith leaders to embrace alternative forms of worship that do not involve in-person congregation,” Kelly said.

With it being Holy Week, and Easter and Passover celebrations happening, she said it was too dangerous not to make the change.

“This was a difficult decision and could not come at a more disappointing time,” Kelly said.

She said though most Kansans won’t be going to a church or temple this week, physical locations don’t define a person’s faith.

“Physical distance does not keep us apart,” Kelly said. “Many religious texts call on us to love our neighbors as ourselves, so although it will happen virtually this year, we will continue to celebrate each other, worship with one another, and pray for each other on Easter Sunday, and always.”

The order applies to both religious and non-religious funerals. It goes into effect on Wednesday.

Kelly emphasized this was not a ban on church services, just a limitation. She said state and local governments cannot ban them completely.

Kelly said if a small service or a funeral does happen, it’s critical to practice social distancing.

You can read the entire executive order here. The Legislative Coordinating Council will meet on Wednesday to review and possibly take action on the order.

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