Three New York county sheriffs refuse to enforce Cuomo’s ‘unconstitutional’ Thanksgiving restrictions limiting private gatherings to 10 people – as COVID-19 cases continue to spike across the state
- Gov Cuomo last week signed an executive order limiting indoor gatherings at private residences to 10 people
- The health measure comes amid fears of large group events during the holidays
- Fulton, Saratoga and Erie county officials said they will not enforce the order
- Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino called the move ‘unconstitutional’
- ‘I trust people in Fulton County to use their own judgment,’ he said in a post
Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino announced his office had no plans to enforce Cuomo’s new order
Cuomo last week announced state officials will be cracking down on gatherings during Thanksgiving and the holiday season, with a new executive order limiting indoor assemblies at private residences to 10 people.
The move comes amid the recent troubling surge of COVID-19 cases sweeping parts of the state including New York City, once the epicenter of the outbreak.
The health measure however, has been met with backlash from Republican leaders who are pushing back against what they described as an ‘unconstitutional’ order.
Gov Cuomo last week signed an executive order limiting indoor gatherings at private residences to 10 people – a move some officials called ‘unconstitutional’
The tightening of restrictions come amid fears of further outbreaks from large social gatherings during the holidays
Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino on Monday accused Governor Cuomo of ‘scaring the hell out of people’ and announced his office had no plans to enforce the rule.
‘People have enough anxiety in their life without thinking that the police are going to come to their door and check on how many people are there,’ the Republican sheriff told the Times Union.
‘But they hear it on TV and think if they add in grandma, they are going to be arrested.’
Giardino had also publicly criticized the move on Friday, when the order went into effect, in a Facebook post slamming the ‘constant barrage of government regulations and control’ over people’s daily lives.
He said the government-imposed restrictions were only adding to the ‘mass depression’ and disruption brought by the pandemic.
‘Who and how many people you invite in to your home is your business, unlike outdoor gatherings which may receive a police response if disorderly or other violations of public nuisance laws occur,’ Giardino wrote.
Giardino publicly criticized the move on Friday, when the order went into effect, in a Facebook post slamming the ‘constant barrage of government regulations and control’ over people’s daily lives
In a press release last week, Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said he couldn’t see ‘how devoting our resources to counting cars in citizens’ driveways or investigating how much turkey and dressing they’ve purchased is for the public good’
‘We have limited resources and we have to set priorities, so obtaining a Search Warrant to enter your home to see how many Turkey or Tofu eaters are present is not a priority. We won’t be doing that.
‘I trust people in Fulton County to use their own judgement on who and how many people they invite. Obviously if you have high risk family members you will weigh the risks to your loved ones versus the reward. Thanksgiving is just that, a time to give thanks for what we have or have received over the year,’ he added.
Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard has also opposed the order
The latest figures show 124,565 people were tested in Fulton County on Monday, with 3,490 returning positive results.
Statewide, COVID-19 hospitalizations are the highest they have been since June.
In the last week, the state has averaged 4,500 positive tests per day. The state’s hospitals and nursing homes have reported 185 deaths over the past seven days.
When asked about the uptick in cases, Giardino told the paper the virus was mainly a concern for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, adding that only 28 people have died in the county so far, the majority being nursing home patients.
Giardino’s stance has been backed by his counterparts in Saratoga and Erie County who are also refusing to adhere to the order.
In a press release last week, Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said he couldn’t see ‘how devoting our resources to counting cars in citizens’ driveways or investigating how much turkey and dressing they’ve purchased is for the public good.’
Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard also said he will be ignoring the order.
State officials have responded to the pushback, accusing county sheriffs of turning a health measure into a political game.
‘Politicians acting like politicians and ignoring what the actual experts say has been fueling the spread of this virus is what plunged this country in this continued public health crisis in the first place,’ senior adviser Rich Azzopardi told the paper.
‘We urge everyone to continue to be smart and act responsibly. We know this makes people unhappy, but better unhappy then sick or worse.’
Giardino denied the issue was political and said it was a matter of ‘common sense.’
‘People have common sense. They are not going to jeopardize family members. They are not going to jeopardize close friends. Most people respect the masks,’ he told the paper.
‘Basically, as a lawyer, former DA and judge, if I got brought into court, I can’t justify it constitutionally. The threat is not so great that we should be limiting who they can have for Thanksgiving.’