Trump demands that houses of worship reopen

Trump says houses of worship such as synagogues are "essential", calls on governors to allow them to reopen this weekend.

Arutz Sheva North America Staff ,

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump said Friday that he has deemed houses of worship such as synagogues to be "essential" and called on governors across the country to allow them to reopen this weekend.

"Today I'm identifying houses of worship -- churches, synagogues and mosques -- as essential places that provide essential services," Trump said during a press conference at the White House, according to The Associated Press.

Trump added that if governors do not abide by his request, he will "override" them, though it's unclear what authority he has to do so.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had prepared a draft of reopening guidelines for churches and other houses of worship weeks ago that included measures like maintaining distance between parishioners and limiting the size of gatherings.

That guidance had been delayed for more than a month by the administration until Trump abruptly changed course Thursday.

"I said, ‘You better put it out.' And they're doing it," Trump said during his visit to a Ford Motor Company plant in Michigan. "And they're going to be issuing something today or tomorrow on churches. We've got to get our churches open."

Earlier this month, leaders of the Orthodox Union released guidance on reopening synagogues after a webinar with Dr. Anthony Fauci. The organization pointed to outdoor services as a possible first step in resuming prayer but urged caution in considering any resumption of services.

Dr. Fauci told American rabbis during that conference that synagogues in the US may be able to be open for the Jewish High Holy Days in the fall, but only if certain conditions are met in terms of testing, contact tracing and social distancing.

He noted, however, that synagogues would not be able to operate in the same way as prior to the pandemic.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, permitted the resumption of religious services with restrictions.

Cuomo announced in his daily news conference on Wednesday that religious services may begin if limited to 10 or fewer participants with social distancing and masks in place.

He stressed that caution must be exercised to make sure the religious gatherings do not become an opportunity for the virus to spread further.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)