Leaders plead for Philly faithful to stay home for spring holidays during COVID-19 crisis

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia officials are renewing their plea for residents to forego in-person religious observances. 

"Please, please, do not gather in person," Rev. Naomi Leaphart said Tuesday in a news briefing via video conference.

As a cleric herself, the city's director of interfaith affairs understands what she is asking when she calls for social distancing at Passover, Easter and later this month at Ramadan.

"My heart is breaking. These holy days must be observed in the context of a deeply challenging circumstance," Leaphart said.

Managing Director Brian Abernathy says the city could take action against a church where there is even a small gathering.

"Certainly not where we want to be, and we hope that all of our faith leaders follow the reverend's advice,"he said Tuesday.

Mayor Jim Kenney summed it up this way: "I suggest that people pray at home and call your family on the phone. Hopefully, there’ll be a Passover and an Easter and a Ramadan next year that people will be alive to celebrate."

For suggested alternatives, see the city's website.