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Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump wants to throw open the houses of worship "right now," claiming they are essential services.

What he's saying: “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 said during a press conference on Friday.

Why it matters: Social distancing is hard at places of worship and there's an ongoing legal fight over how they should be treated in plans to lift coronavirus lockdowns.

  • Places of worship, including churches, mosques and synagogues, remain mostly closed due to large gathering restrictions across America.
  • Governors and local officials make these decisions, not Trump, but his pressure could push some of them to accelerate reopening timelines.
  • A CDC case study out this week said 35 of the 92 people who attended services at a rural Arkansas church in March tested positive for COVID-19, killing three.

The big picture: In California, a "group of federal attorneys wrote a letter to [Gov. Gavin] Newsom warning him that prolonged church closures likely violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment due to the fact that similar non-religious businesses are receiving the green light to reopen in Stage 2," per the San Francisco Chronicle.

  • A federal judge ruled in early May that churches can be held to the same standards as other places where people commune, such as restaurants, concerts, movies and sporting events, notes Axios' Marisa Fernandez.
  • Federal courts earlier ruled against temporary bans in Kentucky and Kansas. Churches are now open in a reduced capacity in both states.

Earlier this week, the CDC released a 60-page road map for states, restaurants, schools, child care programs, mass transit systems and other businesses, Axios' Alayna Treene notes.

  • Some religious leaders voiced concerns about churches being left out, sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Go deeper... Trump: "we're not closing our country" for second coronavirus wave

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.