State Watch

New York governor says decision still coming on NYC mayor’s plan to close businesses in hot spots

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that the state was consulting with city officials about New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to close nonessential businesses in areas of the city that have seen spiking rates of new coronavirus infections, but went ahead with the mayor’s plan to close schools in those areas.

Cuomo appeared to indicate that state officials would take over control of mandating social distancing and other COVID-19-related restrictions in those areas of New York City, while noting that the city would be required to provide support for state efforts.

“I am not going to recommend or allow any New York City family to send their child to a school that I wouldn’t send my child,” Cuomo said, adding that “local government will need to provide us with personnel” for enforcing guidelines in the affected areas, which include nine city neighborhoods.

His remarks come amid video that went viral on social media in which city police are seeing attempting to disperse a crowd of Orthodox Jewish residents of the city who had gathered for a funeral. Many of the areas affected by rising rates of COVID-19 include the city’s Orthodox communities, which has strained relationships with city officials

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Cuomo also appeared on Monday to threaten the closure of religious services in the city that do not conform to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We know that religious institutions have been a problem,” he said. “We know mass gatherings are the super-spreader events. We know that there have been mass gatherings going on in concert with religious institutions … in these communities for weeks.”

“I don’t mean little violations … I’m talking about, you’re only supposed to have 50 outdoors, they had 1,000,” Cuomo added. “They have to agree that they’re going to follow the rules. And they have to agree that they’re going to be full partner in enforcing the rules. … If you do not agree to enforce the rules, then we’ll close the institutions down. I am prepared to do that.”

Monday’s move by Cuomo is the latest back-and-forth between the rival state leaders who have clashed publicly for months over various issues related to the city’s handling of the pandemic and other issues. De Blasio announced the proposal to close schools and businesses in the affected areas on Sunday.

The conflict between the two previously escalated late last month after the union representing principals in city schools called on the state Education Department, which is independent of Cuomo’s administration, to take control of the school system due to concerns about de Blasio’s plans for reopening.

This article was updated at 4:55 p.m. on 10/5 to indicate that city and state officials are still discussing possible plans to close businesses in nine NYC neighborhoods.

Tags Andrew Cuomo Bill de Blasio COVID-19 pandemic in New York City New York City

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