New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is threatening to permanently close churches and synagogues that do not comply with his order to stop gathering during the coronavirus outbreak.
De Blasio's dark warning came Friday, hours before Jews meet for their weekly Shabbat 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.
"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," de Blasio explained.
"If that does not happen, they will take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently," de Blasio continued. "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."
De Blasio: churches and synagogues that hold worship services may be closed permanently https://t.co/kdUsdbP2YO— Matthew Schmitz (@Matthew Schmitz)1585508607.0
Like most of America, New York City is under a shelter-in-place order. New York City officials have said they will enforce the order, even if it means arresting violators.
The Big Apple is America's COVID-19 hotspot, with more than 33,000 confirmed cases of the virus and nearly 800 deaths as of Monday morning.