ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Upset by “rampant” violations of New York’s pandemic-fighting restrictions, Governor Andrew Cuomo threatened Sunday to reinstate closings in areas where local governments fail to enforce the rules.
Manhattan and Long Island’s tony Hamptons were singled out as problem areas by Cuomo, who cited 25,000 complaints statewide of reopening violations. The large gatherings, social-distancing violations, and lax face-covering enforcement endanger the state’s fragile progress in the fight against the coronavirus, Cuomo said, adding that many complaints involve bars and restaurants.
“We are not kidding around with this. You’re talking about jeopardizing people’s lives,” Cuomo said at his daily briefing.
The warning comes a day after the Democractic governor reacted sternly to a short Twitter video from New York City of young people enjoying a warm day packed tightly on a city street, many without masks.
New York officials are trying to avoid the fate of states seeing a surge in new cases after reopening. New York's coronavirus-related hospitalizations are declining and the state recorded 23 deaths Saturday, the lowest one-day coronavirus death toll since the early days of the crisis.
New York is loosening restrictions slowly, often phased in by region. In the latest move, Cuomo said Sunday that “low-risk” youth sports like baseball, softball, field hockey and gymnastics can begin on July 6 in regions in phase 3 of reopening. There can be two spectators per child.
But Cuomo warned the ongoing re-openings could be “rolled back” in areas where police fail to enforce social distancing and other pandemic-related rules.
“Before I reverse a statewide position, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do,” he said. “I’m going to reverse it in those areas that are not in compliance with the rules.”
Cuomo said police should take action against individuals who violate open container laws and warned that restaurants and bars that violate the rules are at risk of losing their liquor licenses.
New York City officials said they're taking aggressive steps to enforce restrictions, including mask distribution this weekend and encouraging people to disperse after making purchases. A city hall spokesperson wrote in an email that these "businesses are allowed to be open per the governor’s guidelines and we don’t believe imprisoning people or taking away their livelihood is the answer.”
On Long Island, Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone said in his briefing Sunday that he had not heard of compliance issues in the Hamptons or elsewhere in the county, but that he would follow up with local police.