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Vance County Sheriff Curtis R. Brame provided WIZS with the following response from State officials on the matter of “drive-in” church services being held during the coronavirus pandemic.
Question asked by 100 NC Sheriffs to the State of NC:
Can you please clarify whether or not “drive-in” church services are allowed under your Executive Order that limits the number of people in a mass gathering to less than 50 people? The way these church services have been explained, all church members are “quarantined” inside their individual vehicles, with the windows down, with the pastor standing outside giving the sermon via a speaker. Some of our churches would like to do this and we need to know whether it is lawful under your Executive Order.
Response from our State Leaders:
Any such gathering would have to comply with social distancing and mass gathering guidelines as set out in Executive Orders 117 and 120. Thus, no more than 50 people could gather in a parking lot even in vehicles, and the cars would need to be spaced 6 feet or more apart.
First, I, Sheriff Curtis Brame, am not attempting to discourage the gathering of God’s people. However, like you and the rest of the world, we do not want to be a contributor to the spreading of the coronavirus. I request you to comply with the following:
On March 23, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 120. The requirements of Executive Order No. 120 were effective beginning at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, and will remain in effect for 30 days from that date [i.e. through April 24, 2020].
Mass Gatherings = 50+ Persons
The new Executive Order modifies Executive Order 117 to limit mass gatherings to no more than 50 people [was 100 people]. Section 1. a.1. of Executive Order 120 provides that a mass gathering is defined as any “event or convening that brings together more than fifty (50) persons in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space . . . [and includes] parades, fairs and festivals.”
Not included in the definition of mass gatherings are normal operations at airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, shopping malls and shopping centers. It also does not include office environments, factories, grocery stores and child care facilities.
The Executive Order provides that the above restriction on mass gatherings is a Class 2 misdemeanor and shall be enforced by State and local law enforcement officers.
Sheriff Curtis R. Brame