President Donald Trump spent his second day in a row on his Washington D.C. area golf course Sunday, opting to play the links after he encouraged churches to reopen for services.
While Washington D.C. remains under a stay-at-home order, parts of Virginia and Maryland have entered phase one of reopening, which allows religious institutions to reopen with certain restrictions in place with an emphasis on social distancing, wearing masks and deep cleanings.
Some churches in the southern part of Virginia have opened. Maryland churches are allowed to open at 50 per cent capacity. The president and first lady will be in Baltimore on Monday for a Memorial Day event.
Trump, however, arrived at his Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., on Sunday morning. He was spotted leaving the White House wearing a white polo shirt and a white baseball cap.
Golfer Bill Hurley also was spotted getting into the motorcade at the White House.
But Melania Trump, on Sunday, remembered the lives lost to the coronavirus.
‘We mourn every life lost to #COVID19. We will pray for their families & loved ones on this somber day, & always,’ the first lady tweeted.
Her tribute comes as The New York Times presented a dramatic front page on Sunday, which included the names and descriptions of 1,000 people who have died from the coronavirus. The president has ordered flags at half-staff to remember those who died from the virus.
Already a church in New Jersey has defied its governor and reopened its doors after Trump issued his order. The Solid Rock Baptist Church in the southern part of the state welcomed worshipers on Sunday even though Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has not lifted his closure order.
Murphy told CNN he spoke to President Trump late Friday about churches but wasn’t ready to open them in his state.
‘I would hope we would get to houses of worship sooner than later. But we want to make sure we do it right, responsibly, and that we don’t kill anybody by doing it too fast,’ he said Sunday on ‘State of the Union.’
But the opening comes after Trump, in a dramatic announcement on Friday, announced he would require governors to reopen churches and other houses of worship and exempt them from coronavirus lockdowns.
‘Today I’m identifying houses of worship – churches, synagogue[s] and mosques – as essential places that provide essential services,’ he said in the White House briefing room.
Dr. Deborah Birx, who coordinates the White House Coronavirus Task Force, warned that churches are not safe for everyone to attend.
She urged vulnerable people to stay home.
‘Although it may be safe for some to go to churches and social distance, it may not be safe for those with pre-existing conditions, and that’s why in phase one and phase two, we’ve asked for those individuals with vulnerabilities to really ensure that they are protected and sheltering in place while we open up America,’ she said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’
Trump was at the golf course instead of a house of worship Sunday.
On Saturday, he started his Memorial Day weekend with his favorite activity – golf. It marked the first time the president hit the links since March 8th, his last weekend in Mar-a-Lago before the coronavirus shuttered normal life.
The president, however, failed to practice social distancing when he was at his members-only club on Saturday.
Trump, who has repeatedly refused to wear a face mask despite CDC recommendations, was seen once again mask-less and flouting social distancing requirements to stay six feet away from other people by shaking hands with a fellow mask-less golfer.
On Friday, Birx advised Americans they could enjoy golf – and other sports – over Memorial Day weekend as long as they social distance.
This is the longest duration he has gone without visiting one of his clubs since becoming president, according to NBC News, which calculated he has visited his own properties on more than 400 days or around a third of his term.
Trump has complained on more than one occasion that he has missed playing the sport during the pandemic.
‘I’d really like to play golf but it’s too busy right now,’ he said earlier this month.
He also called into an NBC PGA special last weekend and said he hadn’t started since ‘this problem’ began.
‘I do miss it. I haven’t played, really, since this problem that we have started. I haven’t been able to play golf for a while. I’ve been very busy, and I think that it’s just one of those things, but we’re getting back to normal,’ he said.
Dr Birx said during Friday’s White House briefing that people could play golf and other activities over the weekend – often seen as the unofficial start of summer – but cautioned people to keep complying with social distancing.
‘Please, as you go out this weekend, understand that you can be outside and you can play golf, and you can play tennis with marked balls,’ she said.
On Friday, Trump bowed to pressure from the Democrats to fly flags at half-staff at the White House, the Capitol and the National Mall to mark the start of three days of commemoration of the victims of coronavirus over Memorial Day weekend.
This comes as the U.S. death toll continued to soar, with more than 97,000 on Sunday and cases topped 1.6 million.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Emily Goodin