Louisiana Pastor Charged for Defying Coronavirus Restrictions on Gatherings
Louisiana pastor Tony Spell, who says he hosted several hundred people at his church on Sunday, has been charged with six misdemeanors for violating the governor’s executive order. Governor John Bel Edwards announced an order against gatherings of more than 50 people in the state of Louisiana to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Each violation carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $500 fine.
He pledged to continue to hold church services a few hours after the announcement of the charges.
Baton Rouge, which is near the location of the Life Tabernacle Church, currently has 228 confirmed COVID-19 cases and nine deaths.
The news comes as Texas mandates a 14-day quarantine for non-essential travelers coming from any location in Louisiana. Governor Gregg Abbot of Texas extended school closures in the state through May 4 and updated social distancing guidelines to last through April 30. He did not issue a shelter-in-place order as other states have.
Another pastor in Florida was arrested yesterday for continuing to violate a safer-at-home order put in place by state officials. Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was charged with unlawful assembly and violation of a public health emergency order.
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