Churches belong in phase 4 of reopening, state officials clarify

Updated: May. 18, 2020 at 1:06 PM EDT
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WWNY) - Churches, synagogues and other houses of worship will have to wait to open their doors until the fourth phase of their region’s reopening plan.

That was clarified in Buffalo Monday at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus briefing.

It was unclear from state guidelines what phase applied to churches as they weren’t specified in any of the lists.

“The gathering is the issue,” the governor said.

He pointed out that a religious gathering sparked the state’s first hotspot of the coronavirus – and at the time the largest in the nation – in New Rochelle in Westchester County.

“One person who went to a religious gathering, and then a ceremony, infected dozens and dozens,” Cuomo said.

The fourth phase is the last and the one that includes any activity that normally involves many people gathered together.

It’s not clear yet, state officials say, whether houses of worship will be able to open their doors to small groups before phase four.

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