President Donald Trump on Friday demanded that governors reopen churches, synagogues and mosques “today,” and threatened to “ease” restrictions by state leaders if they do not do so by the weekend.
The surprise announcement marked the president’s latest attempt to expand political stakes surrounding the country’s coronavirus recovery efforts. He faces a tough reelection fight against incumbent Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Trump said it was an “injustice”; that some state leaders have allowed “liquor stores and abortion clinics” to remain open amid a Covid-19 pandemic while closing worship houses .
“This is not right,” Trump said. “I call houses of worship important.”
“If there is any question, they will need to call me, but they will not be successful on that call,” Trump told state officials.
“Governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important areas of faith to open today, for this weekend,” Trump said.
“If they don’t do it, I’ll ignore the governors.”
But it is far from clear whether Trump has the power to do so.
States, not the federal government, have imposed harsh restrictions on residents and businesses to try to slow the spread of coronavirus. The White House has just released guidelines for states and regional leaders to follow as they fight the disease.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, when asked what authority Trump allowed to override a governor’s policies, did not provide a specific provision.
Instead, he said the president would “strongly encourage every governor to allow their churches to reopen – and boy, is it interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to see churches and houses of worship open?” to stay closed. “
One reporter quickly objected to that characterization, saying he was a church and wanted to attend the service again but questions remain about whether the places of worship were being asked to reopen.
The 10th Amendment to the U.S. The Constitution states: “The powers not conferred upon the United States by the Constitution, or prohibited by it in the United States, are vested in the United States, or the people.”
With the U.S. economy worrying under social exclusion rules, Trump has strongly called on the country to begin the process of reopening.
More than 1.58 million cases and at least 95,052 deaths from coronavirus have been confirmed in the United States to date, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The White House recently fought with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make upcoming guidelines for reopening places of worship more challenging, NBC News reported Thursday.
Trump had previously pushed religious gatherings to restart: He said in March he would like to see “packed churches” at Easter, April 12. The idea was later backed off. , saying “I just think it’s going to be a good timeline.”
In an event veteran on Friday, Trump said he would soon issue “very strong recommendations” on reopening churches. “We want to open our churches, we want our places of faith, synagogues, we want to open them,” Trump said afterwards.
“It’s about to happen. I consider them important, and that’s one of the things we say,” Trump said.
Many states – including New York, the epicenter of the United States crisis – have already relaxed some social flight rules for religious gatherings.
On Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has released an updated guide allowing church services of up to 10 people in areas where restrictions are in place and ordering participants to wear masks. Cuomo encouraged churches to host drive-in services and parking ceremonies.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also cracked down on religious ceremonies with large gatherings. In late April, de Blasio said an unannounced burial for an ultra-Orthodox rabbi that drew thousands of mourners to Brooklyn “was absolutely unacceptable” and warned the New York Police Department to take over a “zero tolerance” policy in large gatherings.
– CNBC’s And Manganese contributed to this report.