Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear implored residents to avoid gathering this weekend for the Easter holiday, warning that anyone who violates the state's stay-at-home order will be subject to a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine.
Beshear said the state will record license plate information of people seen attending mass gatherings and turn that information over to local public health officials. Quarantine notices will then be delivered in person.
The announcement was made on Good Friday, one of the holidays leading into Easter Sunday.
"I hope everybody knows that even on a weekend like this we cannot have in-person gatherings of any type," Beshear said, adding that at least seven churches in the state are still considering whether to hold Easter services.
"We absolutely cannot bring people together in one building like that because that is how the coronavirus spreads, and that's how people die," Beshear said.
All mosques and synagogues throughout Kentucky previously closed and none intend to hold services this weekend, according to the governor.
Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican who is recovering from coronavirus, criticized Beshear's order in a tweet.
"Taking license plates at church? Quarantining someone for being Christian on Easter Sunday? Someone needs to take a step back here," Paul tweeted.
But Beshear, a Democrat, said "it's not fair" for some people to violate the state's stay-at-home order and risk spreading COVID-19 to others who are following the directive.
"This is just an example of personal responsibility," Beshear said.
As of Friday, Kentucky has 1,693 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 90 recorded deaths, according to NBC News counts.
Preventing people from attending religious observances and other large events, including funerals, looms over the fight against coronavirus.
Public health officials have repeatedly cautioned against violating social distancing guidelines as more super-spreading events are recorded. In Chicago, at least 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases were traced to a single man who attended a dinner, a funeral and a birthday party, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three people later died.
Some faith leaders have remained defiant, however. A Florida pastor ignored the state's stay-at-home directive and held services for hundreds of worshippers last month. He was arrested and later agreed to hold services online this weekend.
In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly sued the Republican-controlled Legislative Coordinating Council that overturned her executive order making it a crime to have more than 10 people at church services or funerals.
In Louisiana, a pastor was cited this month after holding church services for hundreds of people.
Across the country, some churches were looking at offering drive-in services this weekend if plans were approved by their local governments.