New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that any churches continuing to hold in-person services during his coronavirus closure order could wind up paying stiff fines or being permanently closed.
“The NYPD, fire department, buildings department — 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,” he said.
“If that does not happen, they will take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently.”
The order sparked outrage among New Yorkers and others on social media.
“I don’t care how bad the Wuhan virus gets, there’s no legal authority for government officials to permanently shut down worship services,” Red State writer “Bonchie” replied over the weekend.
“None at all. They can make requests and set guidelines, but it’s a gross violation of the Constitution to shut down the use of private property for religious services,” the writer added.
“There are some things that are more important than short term measures to fight a health crisis and religious freedom is one of those things,” the writer added.
De Blasio, however, claimed that “no faith tradition endorses anything that endangers the members of that faith.”
“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,” he said.