Photo shows Bedford church packed, despite coronavirus ban on groups of more than 10 people

‘We can’t go put chains on the door of a church’

BEDFORD, Va. – A church in Bedford is refusing to follow the governor’s orders to close.

Now, local police are unsure whether or not they can charge church leaders.

A photo of Bible Truth Tabernacle Church in Bedford was posted on Facebook on Sunday.

The parking lot was packed with cars of churchgoers, despite requests by health officials to stay at home, avoid contact with others and not be in groups of 10 or more people.

Bedford Chief of Police Todd Foreman said his department is aware of the issue and has talked with the pastor about the safety hazard of still holding church services.

He said that if a nonessential business breaking that 10-person gathering limit, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor charge. However, he said it’s tough to enforce because the department needs to balance that social distancing order with the protections provided in the Constitution.

“We’re trying to balance all that because we can’t go put chains on the door of a church," said Foreman. "So it’s a matter of finding a balance and trying to solve the problem.”

Local police are talking with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office to see if or how they should file any charges.

They are also talking with the church leaders about the situation.

A request made to the church for a comment was not returned.

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