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Trump spoke to bikers from the White House balcony earlier Friday. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump announced Friday that he was declaring churches and places of worship as "essential places that provide essential services," and said that he would override governors to allow them to open "right now."

What he's saying: "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," Trump said from the White House podium.

  • “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," he added.

Reality check: The federal government does not have the power to implement nationwide measures to move toward a reopening, though the president has used social media — and formerly, his daily briefings — to influence governors' decisions.

  • Trump similarly tweeted last month that the "decision to open up the states" following shutdown measures taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus lies with him, not governors.

Between the lines: The announcement comes after federal guidelines on reopening churches were delayed over a disagreement between the CDC and the White House over the specifics of what they should look like.

  • The CDC released a 60-page road map for states, restaurants, schools, child care programs, mass transit systems and other businesses about reopening earlier this week, but left out details regarding the reopening of places of worship and faith-based organizations.
  • Some religious leaders voiced concerns about churches being left out, sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios, prompting Trump to direct the CDC to quickly finish the guidelines.
  • Trump told reporters Thursday that the new guidance would be issued in the next few days.

The big picture: The Trump administration closely consulted religious leaders as they drafted the guidelines, a White House official told Axios.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Updated Aug 30, 2020 - World

Berlin police break up protests against coronavirus restrictions

A protester confronting a police officer in Berlin on Aug. 28. Photo: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Berlin police arrested 300 demonstrators after disbanding a protest Saturday over Germany's coronavirus restrictions as tens of thousands of participants refused to maintain social distancing, per the BBC.

Why it matters: Berlin's regional government tried to ban the protest earlier this week, citing concern for public health. Protesters successfully appealed the decision on Friday, though a court required demonstrators to observe social distancing.

Aug 29, 2020 - World

Europe fears second coronavirus wave as cases surge

A representation of the coronavirus at a Berlin protest against Germany's virus restrictions on Aug. 28. Photo: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Several European countries have reported a jump in new coronavirus cases in recent weeks after a drop in cases over June and July, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Why it matters: The surge could indicate that Europe is on the verge of a second wave, though currently fewer people are dying from the virus and new cases have needed less medical treatment than those who got it in the spring, according to the Washington Post.

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