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Donald Trump touts ‘beautiful timeline’ to lift coronavirus restrictions by Easter and have ‘packed churches’

Donald Trump touts ‘beautiful timeline’ to lift coronavirus restrictions by Easter and have ‘packed churches’

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Donald Trump said he wants his nation “opened up and raring to go by Easter” as he spoke about an end to coronavirus lockdown measures across the United States.

The US President spoke of his desire to loosen guidelines, touting the prospect of “packed churches” for the holiday. 

“I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” he said in a virtual town hall held by Fox News. 

In a later interview on Fox News he said: “Wouldn’t it be great to have all of the churches full?

“You’ll have packed churches all over the country.

“I think it would be a beautiful time. And it’s just about the timeline that I think is right.”

Easter Sunday is on April 12. The US is one week into a 15-day push of social distancing, with measures issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The measures to limit activity are voluntary, though some areas have imposed mandatory restrictions. 

Commenting on this period ending next Monday, Mr Trump said: “We’ll assess at that time and we’ll give it some more time if we need a little more time, but we need to open this country up.

“We have to go back to work, much sooner than people thought.”

It was suggested by many that a desire to lift restrictions by Easter Sunday might be premature. 

Former vice president Joe Biden, who is hoping to be the Democratic candidate to run against Mr Trump later this year, said: “He should stop talking and start listening to the medical experts.”

Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois told CNN: “I think the president is premature, I think he’s probably overly hopeful and not listening to the science.” 

There have been some 650 deaths in the US of patients who had previously been diagnosed with coronavirus, with more than 53,000 people infected. 

Of the deaths, at least 210 were in New York state, which has also seen more than 25,000 cases. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that the infection rate in New York is doubling roughly every three days. 

In a briefing at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center he said: “We are not slowing it. And it is accelerating on its own. 

“One of the forecasters said to me we were looking at a freight train coming across the country. We’re now looking at a bullet train.”

He warned that at the infection’s peak, which experts now suggest could be in two to three weeks, New York City could need 140,000 hospital beds. 

It comes as the White House and Senate leaders struck an agreement late on Tuesday for a sweeping $2 trillion (£1.68 trillion) package to support aid workers, the health care system and businesses impacted by the virus outbreak. 

Full details of the measures are being finalised, though it would give direct payments to most Americans, of around $1,200 (£1,000) per adult and $500 (£420) for each child. 

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