Trump declares places of worship 'essential,' setting up standoff with governors

Trump declares places of worship 'essential,' setting up standoff with governors

Trump's push to return churchgoers to pews that have been empty for weeks comes just days after churches in Georgia and Texas, both states with Republican governors, announced that they would close again after experiencing acute outbreaks of the virus after they opened.

Trump did not say what legal authority he had to force governors, who maintain the power to order establishments to remain closed during public health emergencies in their own states, to make such a move if they disagreed.

"Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential", the president said.

President Donald Trump has unveiled new guidance classifying houses of worship as "essential services" and insisting that governors allow faith groups to worship despite the risk of furthering the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Trump on Friday stressed the importance of churches in many communities and took issue with some of the businesses that had been allowed to reopen. "In America we need more prayer, not less". "If they don't do it, I will override the governors".

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Trump took no questions from the media after making his announcement, but his statement was followed with a presentation by White House Coronavirus Task Force chief Dr. Deborah Birx, showing the downward trend of Covid-19 cases across the United States with the exception of Chicago, Los Angeles and the Washington, DC area - all of which remain under lockdown orders.

The guidelines also said places of worship should consider limiting the size of gatherings or moving them outdoors, suspending the use of choirs and singing, and eliminating activities where it is hard to maintain six feet of separation.

"It's not right", Trump said.

Despite many churches holding services online, President Trump remarked Thursday that it was not the same as attending in person.

The president confirmed that the new guidelines would apply to churches, synagogues, and mosques. "I know them well". When the Knoxville, Tennessee government began to allow people to go to church again, it told churches, "t$3 he physical taking of communion/sacrament should not be performed due to the serial breaking of physical distancing across a congregation". "Certainly, people that have significant comorbidities, we want them protected".

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