Orthodox Jews set fire to masks and chant ‘we won’t be deprived of our rights’ after Gov. Cuomo closed religious schools and banned gatherings in nine neighborhoods seeing a surge in COVID cases
- Governor Andrew Cuomo imposed strict new restrictions on nine New York City neighborhoods and other hotspot regions across the state on Tuesday
- Non-essential businesses have to close, religious gatherings of more than 10 people are now banned and restaurants can only offer take out in those areas
- Mass gatherings in those neighborhoods are also now banned, Cuomo said
- Following restrictions, a group of 80 people protested his decision in Brooklyn
- Cuomo’s restrictions comes a day after he ruled that hundreds of schools in those nine neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens had to close
- The new rules, which will be in place for at least two weeks, will go into affect as early as Wednesday but no later than Friday
About 80 people took to the streets Tuesday night in Brooklyn to protest Gov Andrew Cuomo’s restrictions on nine New York City neighborhoods where COVID-19 rates are surging.
The group of Orthodox Jews gathered in Borough Park Brooklyn for the demonstration against the closure of schools and the banning of large religious gatherings.
Footage from the protest showed members of the group setting fire to a pile of masks in the middle of the street.
A few people were seen throwing their masks on the fire as others cheered.
The group of mostly men were also seen gathering closely together as they heard from Councilman Kalman Yeger.
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About 80 people took to the streets Tuesday night in Brooklyn to protest Gov Andrew Cuomo’s restrictions on nine New York City neighborhoods where COVID-19 rates are surging
The group of Orthodox Jews gathered in Borough Park Brooklyn for a protest against the decisions to impose restrictions on their communities from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cuomo
Footage from the protest showed the group of mostly men gathered closely together as they heard from Councilman Kalman Yeger
The men are seen standing in a street in Brooklyn amid Tuesday night’s protest
Yeger is heard telling the men: ‘We’re going to be safe. We’re going to be smart. We’re going to wear masks.
‘But we are not going to be deprived the right that we have in America, like everybody else in America, the right to observe our religion, the right to do it freely, the right to do it without government interference.’
‘I don’t care who in government thinks that they can stop us. They’re wrong. Let them try,’ Yeger added.
In addition to his appearance at the protest, Yeger also released a statement with other local leaders that called Cuomo’s actions a disgrace.
‘We are appalled by Governor Cuomo’s actions today. He has chosen to pursue a scientifically and constitutionally questionable shutdown of our communities,’ the statement reads.
‘His administration’s utter lack of coordination and communication with local officials has been an ongoing issue since the start of the pandemic and particularly recently as we face this uptick… What occurred today can only be described as a duplicitous bait-and-switch.’
The local leaders called it ‘disgraceful’ that Cuomo would impose restrictions ‘targeting our community in the midst of our Jewish holidays’.
The statement said the communities impacted by the restrictions have been left ‘shocked, angered and highly frustrated’.
A group of about 50 people also gathered on Tuesday to protest. The group stood outside Good Shepherd Catholic Academy in Marine Park where they criticized the decision to close schools in hard-hit zip codes.
Principal John O’Brien told the New York Post: ‘We’re disappointed today. We’ve had one month of school where the boys and girls have been in the building every day. We’re following all the guidelines that we’re supposed to. Thank God we’ve had no positive cases, nobody’s been sick, and still we have to close today.
‘The zip code plan doesn’t seem to be the right way to go about it. If there were cases in our school, we would have to shut down and nobody would argue about that,’ O’Brien added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Cuomo introduced strict new restrictions that force non-essential businesses to close, bans religious gatherings of more than 10 people and stops all dining in nine New York City neighborhoods.
Set to take effect no later than Friday, the new rules will be imposed in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, as well as other areas across the state, where officials have been anxiously watching clusters of virus cases sprout up.
In addition to the ban on large religious gatherings and closure of non-essential businesses, restaurants will also be forced to go back to offering takeout only – just one week after they were cleared to begin welcoming diners back indoors.
On Tuesday, Cuomo imposed strict new restrictions on nine New York City neighborhoods where COVID-19 rates are surging that includes shutting down non-essential businesses and banning religious gatherings of more than 10 people
The tough new restrictions (above in red) will currently apply to nine neighborhoods in Brookyn and Queens where COVID rates are surging. Restrictions will also be imposed on some surrounding neighborhoods (above in orange) to act as what he described as a buffer
Mass gatherings in those neighborhoods are also now banned.
Cuomo said some restrictions will also be imposed on surrounding neighborhoods to act as what he described as a buffer, saying the severity of shutdowns would vary by proximity to the hotspots.
It was not immediately clear what surrounding neighborhoods outside the hotspot areas would face additional restrictions.
Cuomo made the announcement just one day after he ruled that hundreds of schools in nine neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens had to close.
The new rules, which will be in place for at least two weeks, will go into affect as early as Wednesday but no later than Friday.
In the hearts of the hot spots – color-coded as red zones – schools would close to in-person learning, only essential businesses could remain open, houses of worship would be limited to no more than 10 people, and restaurants could offer only take-out and delivery.
Those areas would be surrounded by orange-coded zones where schools also would be remote-only, and ‘high-risk’ non-essential enterprises – such as gyms and personal-care businesses – would be closed. Religious institutions would be restricted to 25 people, and restaurants would be allowed limited outdoor dining.
A wider ‘yellow’ caution zone would have schools and businesses open, and restrictions would be lighter than in other zones.
The governor said the state would be consulting with local governments to draw the maps.
Most of the neighborhoods targeted by the restrictions are home to part of the city’s large Orthodox Jewish community.
‘A mass gathering causes infections, infections cause a cluster, a cluster causes community spread,’ Cuomo said. ‘That is the national evolution of things unless we intervene and we stop the cycle.’
There are currently about 20 areas statewide that are on Cuomo’s hotspot list. Nine of those are in New York City’s Brooklyn and Queens boroughs.
Other counties across the state that will be affected by the new restrictions include Rockland, Broome and Orange counties.
In New York City, the nine ZIP codes singled out for restrictions have been responsible for more than 20 per cent of all new infections in the city over the past four weeks despite representing only 7 per cent of the population.
The citywide positive infection rate is now at 1.9 percent. Rates in those nine hotspot zip codes is as high as eight percent in some neighborhoods.
Cuomo’s announcement came just hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was ready to shut down non-essential businesses in the nine zip codes.
De Blasio had put forward the plan to Cuomo to shutter non-essential business but needed state approval.
The governor and mayor have repeatedly squabbled over government responses to the spread of COVID-19.
POSITIVE TEST RATE: The citywide positive infection rate is now at 1.9 percent. Rates in those nine hotspot zip codes is as high as eight percent in some neighborhoods
The statewide positivity rate is currently at 1.2 per cent. The positivity rate in 20 hotspot zip codes across the state, including the nine NYC areas, is now at 5.5 per cent
Cuomo ordered the closing of schools in nine Brooklyn and Queens zip codes on Monday.
He held off a decision on de Blasio’s proposal to close nonessential businesses in those areas until Tuesday, suggesting that the boundaries needed to be drawn differently to be effective.
Earlier on Tuesday de Blasio pressed for a quick answer, saying the city was ready to close the enterprises Wednesday but needed the state’s approval.
‘We are at a crucial moment in our fight against the coronavirus,’ de Blasio said during his press briefing.
‘We have to bring everything we can to bear. We have to be tough about it.’
In Rockland County, where virus cases in some areas have sparked concern, County Executive Ed Day said he backed the governor’s plan and would do what he could to help implement it.
‘The restrictions he announced are measured and clearly focused on the areas where this disease is spreading,’ said Day, a Republican, urging residents to embrace their ‘civic duty to do what is right, not only for ourselves but for our entire community.’
North of the city, the health commissioner in Orange County ordered school closures for at least two weeks in an Orthodox Jewish community in the Hudson Valley.
Dr Irina Gelman ordered the closure of public and private schools serving the village of Kiryas Joel, also known as the Town of Palm Tree, where an average of nearly 28 percent of coronavirus cases have come back positive over the last three days.