The United States President, Donald Trump, on Friday, demanded that states allow religious services to take place again this weekend, thus ending shutdowns that were part of efforts to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.
Trump made the proclamation, which he phrased in the form of a verbal order, from the White House briefing room.
His exact authority to dictate to states was unclear, but his words will carry political weight and potentially add pressure on state officials.
“Today I am identifying houses of worship – churches, synagogues and mosques – as essential places that provide essential services,” Trump said, meaning they can be open during the pandemic.
He said the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) would be issuing guidance “at my direction,” although no CDC directives had been issued at the time of his speech.