On Thursday, the mayor announced that restaurants in the city will shortly be allowed to serve patrons outdoors.
“New York’s restaurants are part of what make us the greatest city in the world. They’ve taken a hit in our fight against COVID-19 – and there’s no recovery without them,” de Blasio stated. Churches are not slated to fully reopen until stage four of the state’s reopening program, along with schools, theaters, and entertainment venues.
Public Mass in the Archdiocese of New York has been suspended since March to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Churches in the city are open for private prayer, but not public Masses of even ten or fewer people.
Mayor de Blasio has already faced criticism for his treatment of houses of worship during the coronavirus pandemic, threatening mass arrests or even permanent closure of churches and synagogues that did not comply with public orders.
On March 27, the mayor called out a "small number of religious communities, specific churches and specific synagogues” for continuing to hold services during New York’s stay-at-home order.
If the services continued, he said, “our enforcement agents” would shut them down, and he threatened fines and even permanent closure of houses of worship for further disobedience of the order.
When thousands gathered to mourn at the funeral of a Hasidic rabbi in Brooklyn in late April, de Blasio said the mass gathering was “absolutely unacceptable.”
He threatened future religious gatherings with mass arrests.
“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups,” he tweeted.
At the end of a June 3 press conference, de Blasio invoked the 1971 song “Imagine” by John Lennon to discuss the situation in the city while saying “I don’t mean to make light of this.”
The song imagines a more perfect world in which there is “no heaven” and “no religion.” De Blasio said the song asks essential questions “about a world where people got along differently.”
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“What about a world where we didn’t live with a lot of the restrictions that we live with now?” he said. “But we’re not there yet. We are making a lot of progress, I truly believe,” he said.