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Staten Island couple defend decision to have church wedding amid coronavirus outbreak

A Staten Island couple who defied New York state’s ban on gatherings in order to get married over the weekend have spoken out about how their special day was ruined after they received death threats for having a wedding amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Newlyweds John and Irene Fuchs exchanged their vows in front of 18 guests at Our Lady of Pity Catholic Church located on Richmond Avenue on Sunday, flouting restrictions imposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus in New York state, which has reported 21,689 coronavirus cases and 157 deaths.

‘My wedding was definitely ruined and I don’t have guilt because I know I didn’t put anybody at risk,’ Irene said.

Her husband, John added: ‘We didn’t force anybody to come and it was really nice in the church but then it turned into all hell afterwards.’

Newlyweds John and Irene Fuchs (pictured Tuesday) exchanged their vows in front of 18 guests on Sunday in Staten Island. Since their wedding they claim they have been receiving death threats for defying Gov Andrew Cuomo's ban on large gatherings

Newlyweds John and Irene Fuchs (pictured Tuesday) exchanged their vows in front of 18 guests on Sunday in Staten Island. Since their wedding they claim they have been receiving death threats for defying Gov Andrew Cuomo’s ban on large gatherings 

The couple explained that previous reports that claimed there were two dozen people at the wedding were wrong. In fact, they say, there was only 18 people there, with three people per pew.   

‘I did not want to put anybody at risk because we are taking this very seriously,’ Irene reiterated. 

John said they wouldn’t have gone through with their nuptials had they known they were going to face so much backlash over it. 

He said since the story of their wedding amid the outbreak broke this week, they have been receiving death threats and people have ‘been harassing us online’. 

‘One person said the only reason why I got married was because I’m one step away from dying of diabetes,’ John said. ‘It’s insane. I couldn’t believe this.’

‘No one can say when this is going to get better so I did what I felt was right.

‘I’m still happy that me and Irene are together and we got married but to be honest after reading the comments and everything it’s depressing. They ruined it,’ John added. 

John then called out the priest, saying: ‘If this was something wrong why didn’t the priest tell us.’ 

The happy couple's wedding ceremony lasted less than an hour, according to reports

The happy couple’s wedding ceremony lasted less than an hour, according to reports

Irene and John before they married on Sunday

The couple married on Sunday

John said they wouldn’t have gone through with their nuptials had they known they were going to face so much backlash over it. Irene and John are pictured before their wedding 

The couple have been together more than five years and got engaged in June 2019

The couple have been together more than five years and got engaged in June 2019

The loved-up pair celebrated their nuptials at Our Lady of Pity Catholic Church (pictured) in Staten Island on Sunday

The loved-up pair celebrated their nuptials at Our Lady of Pity Catholic Church (pictured) in Staten Island on Sunday 

Irene was photographed wearing a princess-style ballgown with a bedazzled bodice and cap sleeves, accessorized with a dramatic full-length veil covering her black tresses.

She and John were accompanied by bridesmaids wearing mermaid-style red gowns, groomsmen in tuxedos and a flower girl in a festive white frock.

The ceremony was officiated by a priest and wrapped up in less than an hour.

According to Facebook posts, the Fuchs have been together for more than four years and got engaged in June of last year. 

According to the New York Post, which first broke the story, several of the guests were elderly, but the couple didn’t confirm whether or not this was true. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that people 65 years and older are at a higher risk for severe illness from the novel coronavirus and are encouraged to self-isolate at home and avoid gatherings.

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of New York, slammed the ceremony for violating its guidelines and said the couple should not have gone through with it at this time.

In New York City alone there are more than 13,000 cases. At least 2,213 of those patients are hospitalized and 525 are in the intensive care unit.   

On Friday, Cuomo issued a state-wide order requiring all non-essential workers to stay home.  

The bride and groom were accompanied by a wedding party, complete with a flower girl

The bride and groom were accompanied by a wedding party, complete with a flower girl

At a weekend press conference, Cuomo excoriated ‘arrogant’ New Yorkers for ignoring social distancing rules after seeing city parks crowded with people.

‘You would think there was nothing going on in parts of New York City. You would think it was just a bright sunny Saturday,’ he told reporters. 

‘I don’t know what I’m saying that people don’t get. I don’t know what they’re not understanding.

‘This is not life as usual. None of this is life as usual.’ 

Effective 8pm on Sunday, New York state imposed a ban on any and all public gatherings of ‘any size for any reasons.’

Church gatherings fall under a religious exemption from the ban, but state officials are encouraging limiting groups to no more than 10 people.  

President Donald Trump imposed a 15-day national action plan a week ago urging Americans to follow the direction of the ‘stay at home’ orders of state and local officials.

At the same time, he has also been far more optimistic than health experts have been about the prognosis for the outbreak while also voicing concern about the negative effect of shutting down wide swathes of the economy.

‘We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself,’ Trump tweeted in all capital letters overnight. ‘At the end of the 15-day period, we will make a decision as to which way we want to go.’

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Written by Angle News

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