Donald Trump has declared that churches are "essential services" and ordered governors to allow places of worship to reopen.
In a statement to reporters from the White House on Friday, May 22, Trump told reporters:
"Today I'm identifying houses of worship — churches, synagogues and mosques — as essential places that provide essential services.
"Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship, It's not right. So I'm correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential."
He continued: "The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now. For this weekend. If they don't do it, I will override the governors. In America we need more prayer, not less."
He added, "These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united."
Quickly after his statement, he left the briefing room podium.
Questions were deflected by the White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany who said: "Boy, it's interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed."
White Evangelical Christians remain Trump's most loyal supporters and the statement seems to be in response to the religious communities' concerns over the COVID-19 crisis. He stressed the importance of churches in many communities.
Shortly after Trump's announcement, new guidelines for faith communities were released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The guidelines included limiting the size of gatherings and considering outdoor services.
"It is safe to reopen your churches if you do so in accordance with the guidelines," said McEnany.