WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence has warned Americans not to attend church services of more than 10 people, just days after President Trump said he wanted church pews overflowing by Easter Sunday.
In an interview with “Nightline” co-anchor Byron Pitts that will air Wednesday evening, Pence said he and wife Karen, both evangelical Christians, and President Trump were “enjoying worship services online” amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re so grateful to churches and synagogues and places of worship around America that have heeded the president’s coronavirus guidelines for America,” said Pence, the head of the president’s coronavirus task force.
“We really believe this is a time when people should avoid gatherings of more than 10 people,” he said, “and so we continue to urge churches around America to heed to that.”
Pence also said he hoped the country would be “in a much better place” by Memorial Day on May 25.
“If every American will put these guidelines into practice, if we all continue to do our part, we really do believe that by Memorial Day weekend or by early summer … we can be through the hardest part of this,” he told Pitts.
The warning comes after Trump last week said he wanted to have the country “opened up and raring to go” by Easter Sunday on April 12.
“You’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it will be a beautiful time,” he said during a Fox News town hall on March 24.
On Sunday, the president announced he would extend social distancing guidelines until April 30, with the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak expected to hit the U.S. later this month.
A Florida megachurch pastor was arrested by authorities on Sunday after ignoring public health warnings by leading services with hundreds of congregants.