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False claim: Minnesota’s government allowing mosques to remain open while churches must close amidst COVID-19 outbreak

Posts on social media make the claim that the government of Minnesota is allowing mosques to remain open amidst the novel coronavirus outbreak, while Christian churches are closed. Examples of this post can be seen here , here and here .

This claim follows President Donald Trump’s recent suggestion that mosques might receive special treatment ( youtu.be/M3Ll18Cz4Yc?t=3000 ).

A sample post on Facebook reads: “Just want to inform you all that all Christian churches in Minnesota are closed!!! BUT the governor has allowed the mosque to remain open!! We should all be outraged at this! I spoke with a deputy with St. Cloud Police Department he said they are ALLOWED TO BE OPEN GOVERNORS ORDERS.”

This claim is false. The Minnesota state government confirmed to Reuters via email that there is “absolutely no distinction between churches and mosques in any order issued by the Governor.” It is true that in-person gatherings of congregants, without distinction of religion, are not allowed by the Governor’s Executive Order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Minnesota’s Stay at Home Order visible here , states that all workers who can work from home must do so. However, it makes an exemption for faith leaders and workers in houses of worship, who are currently among those permitted to perform their duties “wherever their services may be needed.”

According to the Governor’s Executive Order, this category includes: “officials, workers, and leaders in houses of worship and other places of religious expression or fellowship … This category also includes workers necessary to plan, record, and distribute online or broadcast content to community members.” A representative of Minnesota’s state government reiterated to Reuters that this does not permit in-person gatherings of congregants.

Funerals are part of the “permissible activities” within Minnesota’s Stay at Home Order ( here ), as long as gatherings consist of “no more than 10 attendees” and space allows social distancing of six feet between people. The Minnesota government states that if possible, venues should accommodate remote services.

The St. Cloud Times, a central Minnesota local media outlet, reported on churches engaging in alternative ways of worship amidst the coronavirus outbreak, including online services and masses held in parking lots ( here ).

As of April 21, 2020, Minnesota has reported 2,470 confirmed cases and 143 deaths of COVID-19 ( mn.gov/covid19/ ).

Religious authorities in the United Arab Emirates urged Muslims not to congregate for prayers during the holy month expected to start this week ( here ).

VERDICT

False: There is no distinction between mosques and churches in Minnesota during the coronavirus outbreak.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work  here .

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