New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned religious leaders that their places of worship could be shut down permanently if they did not follow the city’s order to pause services during the coronavirus pandemic.
“A small number of religious communities, specific churches and specific synagogues, are unfortunately not paying attention to this guidance even though it’s so widespread,” the New York Democrat said Friday at his daily press briefing.
“I want to say to all those who are preparing for 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,” he added.
De Blasio said that continued resistance of authorities to close religious services could mean a permanent shutdown.
“If that does not happen, they will take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently,” he said.
The mayor issued a stay-at-home guidance this month, which includes fines and penalties for anyone in noncompliance. All nonessential businesses have been shut down in the city.
New York City has been the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. So far, over 33,000 people have confirmed cases in the city, with nearly 700 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.