New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it would be “dangerous” to reopen churches and places of worship during the coronavirus pandemic, despite statements by President Trump urging state officials to do so.
“With all due respect to the president, the president left the impression on Friday that any and all religious services should start again,” de Blasio said Tuesday during a coronavirus press briefing.
“I’m saying very clearly that is dangerous. It is not time to restart large gatherings of any kind even though we deeply, deeply value faith,” he added.
De Blasio said he spoke to several major faith leaders in New York City and the consensus is that “every person of faith would love nothing more but to resume the services that are so important to them.”
Currently, New York state limits all social gatherings, including those of worship, to 10 people or less.
On Monday, Trump reiterated prior statements that places of worship are “essential places” and should be able to reopen for worshippers to gather for live sermons. Many churches, synagogues, mosques and temples have resorted to online or drive-in congregations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The president vowed to challenge any governor who doesn’t lift bans on church gatherings.
“I’ll override any governor that wants to play games,” Trump said during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday. “We have many different ways to override them.”
Meanwhile, de Blasio, whose city has been hit the hardest by the coronavirus in the U.S. and is still struggling with plans to reopen, said faith leaders understand that “this is not the time.”
“The idea of people coming back together, full services, large numbers of people congregating… It’s not that time. That would endanger everyone and we have to be smart,” de Blasio said.
“We’re really making progress when it comes to this disease. But it is not time for large gatherings. It is not time to take the risk of going in the wrong direction. So I want to thank all our partners, our faith leaders. We’re going to keep communicating constantly. We’re going to look for every opportunity to support your efforts to restart [the] right way. But I want to thank our faith leadership for their clear resolve that we will do things all in the right time.”
Author: Vandana Rambaran