With the rise in coronavirus cases in the New York area, measures have been put in place to slow the spread of it, including suggestions of social distancing for all groups. On Friday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that places of worship would be permanently shut down if they don’t comply with the guidelines, according to Fox 5 NY.
“So, I want to say to all those who are preparing the potential of religious services this weekend — if you go to your synagogue, if you go to your church and attempt to hold services after having been told so often not to, our enforcement agents will have no choice but to shut down those services,” de Blasio told reporters in a press conference streamed online. “I don’t say that with any joy. It’s the last thing I would like to do because I understand how important people’s faiths are to them, and we need our faiths in this time of crisis, but we do not need gatherings that will endanger people.”
“No faith tradition endorses anything that endangers the members of that faith,” de Blasio continued. “So, the NYPD, Fire Department, Buildings Department, and everyone has been instructed that if they see worship services going on, they will go to the officials of that congregation, they’ll inform them they need to stop the services and disperse.”
“If that does not happen, they will take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently,” de Blasio concluded. “Again, that will begin this weekend. Again, I’m sorry I have to tell you this, but anyone who’s hearing this, take it seriously. You’ve been warned, you need to stop services, help people practice their faith in different ways, but not in groups, not in gatherings that could endanger people.”
The mayor has also stated that New York City residents who break social distancing rules will be subject to fines up to $500 as the cases of coronavirus are still climbing due to the outbreak.
“You’ve been warned and warned and warned again,” the mayor said during a Sunday press conference.
“They’re going to give people every chance to listen, and if anyone doesn’t listen, then they deserve a fine at this point,” de Blasio said as reported by Politico. “I don’t want to fine people when so many folks are going through economic distress, but if they haven’t gotten the message by now, and they don’t get the message when an enforcement officer’s staring them in the face … that person then deserves the fine, so we’re going to proceed with that.”
Click here to watch Mayor de Blasio’s press conference. His warning to religious buildings starts around the 26:00 mark.