NEW YORK - Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday warned New Yorkers who ignore emergency rules and gather for religious services that they could face fines, the closure of their houses of worship, or even tougher punishment.
The mayor said that prominent faith leaders have supported the extraordinary measures the state and city have taken during the coronavirus pandemic and have told their communities to stay home and pray in private.
However, the mayor said the city has gotten reports of a small number of religious communities that are still ignoring the rules banning gatherings and continue to hold group services.
"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. "I don't say that with any joy, it's the last thing I'd like to do because I understand how important people's faiths are. We need our faiths in this time of crisis but we don't need people to endanger others.
The mayor said that several city agencies, including NYPD, FDNY, Buildings Department, Health Department, and Sheriff's Office, will step up enforcement. He added that if the groups refuse to follow orders, authorities could issue fines and even shut down the spaces.