Apr 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus prompts extreme efforts against Easter gatherings

In this image, rows of pews are shown in a church

Good Friday in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Photo: Brian Van Der Brug/pool/AFP via Getty Images

Police around the globe are taking extra efforts to enforce social distancing over Easter weekend.

Why it matters: Officials say that mitigation efforts like social distancing are beginning to flatten the coronavirus curve in crucial areas across U.S. and Europe, like New York and Lombardy in Italy. Large Easter Sunday gatherings would mean some of that crucial progress is squandered.

  • Italy and Spain have set up roadblocks and police checks across the country, AP reports.
  • In France, where more people are dying each day than in Italy and Spain, police have ramped up checkpoints.
  • South Korea has threatened to track residents with electronic wristbands if they break self-quarantine.
  • Police in the U.K. are using drones to shame those found in violation of the country's social distancing rules, and small shop owners are told they shouldn't sell "nonessential" chocolate Easter eggs.
  • Hawaii issued a nighttime curfew through Easter weekend that bars all forms of transportation from 11 pm to 5 am.
  • Kentucky police will record the license plates of people attending Easter services and they will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said on Friday. Those residents will be notified of their misdemeanor violation.
  • In Illinois, Police Director Brendan Kelly said "there’s not going to be law enforcement storming into church buildings," but said there would be consequences "down the road" if lives are put at risk by those breaking stay-at-home orders. Residents could face reckless conduct charges.

The other side: Religious services are exempt from stay-at-home orders in Florida and Texas, per the Times, and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has let pastors decide if they should hold services.

  • "While Easter and Passover typically mean time spent with family, friends and one’s congregation, it’s important for all to remember to stay home and celebrate these important religious holidays with immediate household members," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said on Friday.

The bottom line: Social distancing measures could bring the total projected death toll in the U.S. down to 60,000, a significant drop from earlier models that projected between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Go deeper: Easter poses major social distancing test

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