New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a press conference on Friday that he may force religious organizations to close "permanently" if they do not stop holding services during the coronavirus pandemic.
De Blasio praised the "extraordinary support" he said the city has seen from some houses of worship, including those who have moved their services online or to the radio, but said that a "small number" of churches and synagogues have been ignoring warnings to suspend gatherings.
"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 said.
De Blasio said the New York Police Department, Fire Department, and Buildings Department have been instructed to shut down religious services they see happening.
"If that does not happen, they will take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently. Again, that will begin this weekend," de Blaiso said. "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."