The Buffalo News | By Jay Tokasz and Jane Kwiatkowski | May 19, 2020
Buffalo Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen is criticizing state officials for putting retail outlets, drive-in theaters and other activities ahead of houses of worship in their phased plan to reopen the state.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday said churches, mosques and synagogues would be allowed to open in the final phase of the state’s rolling efforts to emerge from a two-month shutdown aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.
Pridgen, who is pastor of True Bethel Baptist Church, questioned why churches were put into the “abyss” of phase four and said they should be allowed to open slowly, with proper safety guidelines and protocols in place.
“I want the churches to have the same conversations that the business community has had, that those who are opening drive-ins have had,” Pridgen said. “I’ve got a deluge of pastors calling me about it. There are some who are very upset to be in the fourth phase. The drive-in is open, and the church is closed? Well, that’s interesting.”
A spokesman for the Buffalo Catholic Diocese also acknowledged that many Western New York parishioners, eager to get back to attending Masses and celebrating the sacraments, are puzzled by the state’s pecking order.