President Trump announced on Friday afternoon that his administration would declare places of worship "essential services," allowing them to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"People demand to go to their church and synagogue, to their mosque," Trump said. He said the United States needed "more prayer."
He also said he would "override,quot; governors who do not agree to reopen places of worship.
"If they don't, I will override the governors," Trump said. However, it is unclear how he could "override,quot; the governors, as constitutional experts agree that Trumpreopen state economies against the will of the governors.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who briefed reporters after the president's announcement, declined to explain what Trump was referring to when he said he would "nullify,quot; the governors.
"That depends on the governors," he said of the reopening of houses of worship.
Trump announced earlier Friday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would provide its guidelines for reopening churches "very soon."
"We want our churches and our places of faith and worship, we want them to open, and the CDC is going to be, I think today they are going to issue a very strong recommendation and I'm going to talk about that in a moment," Trump said.
White House Coronavirus Task Force Leader Dr. Deborah Birx spoke to reporters alongside McEnany and advised that people with comorbidities in high-risk areas of COVID-19 want to "wait another week,quot; before of visiting a church, mosque or synagogue. Birx added: "There is a form of social distance in places of worship."
theHe has already been analyzing conflicts between churches and state and local leaders over social distancing during the pandemic. In late April, Attorney General William Barr issued a memo to federal prosecutors to monitor state and local directives that could infringe on constitutional rights and civil liberties, including measures that may discriminate against religious institutions. Barr wrote that if a state or local ordinance crossed the line "from an appropriate exercise of authority to stop the spread of COVID-19 to a pervasive violation of constitutional legal protections, the Department of Justice may be required to address that overreach in federal court law. "
For example, the department is on the side of a Virginia church that defies Gov. Ralph Northam's executive orders limiting the size of in-person meetings during the coronavirus pandemic, which the church says is unfairly applied to houses of worship. and other religious institutions.