Restaurants and other nonessential businesses in New York City’s coronavirus hotspots will not immediately be forced to shut down under a plan of attack outlined Monday by Gov. Cuomo.
Cuomo rejected part of Mayor de Blasio’s weekend proposal to shut down businesses in nine Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods by Wednesday, saying instead that state police would help step up issuing tickets for failing to wear masks in those areas.
“Too many local governments are not doing enforcement,” Cuomo said in a not-so-subtle jab at de Blasio.
The governor went on to suggest that de Blasio is at fault for not stepping up enforcement sooner.
“You have to ask the mayor,” he said when asked why he believes de Blasio has failed on enforcement.
De Blasio shot back that the city has relied on “consistent” enforcement and cited closures to yeshivas and stores as two examples.
“There’s been all sorts of enforcement actions taken,” he said
On Monday, Cuomo also stepped up the timeline for closing schools in those neighborhoods by a day. Both public and private schools will now close on Tuesday. De Blasio’s plan proposed Wednesday for that to happen.
Most of the targeted zip codes are in parts of Southern Brooklyn with large Orthodox Jewish populations, including Borough Park, Midwood, Gravesend, Bensonhurst and Sheepshead Bay. The other zip codes are in Queens' Far Rockaway and Kew Gardens neighborhoods.
Rockland, Orange and Nassau counties are seeing COVID-19 spikes as well.
De Blasio said Monday the city would still prepare shut down businesses in the Brooklyn and Queens hot spots by Wednesday, pending state approval of that part of his plan.
“Until there is a different plan, we are preparing to implement this plan,” de Blasio said. “The state is reviewing that right now and might come back with modifications, but we’re going to be ready to move as early as Wednesday morning.”
That doesn’t seem likely based on what the governor said minutes earlier at a separate press conference.
Instead of shutting down non-essential businesses down right, Cuomo said the state will take over enforcement of social distancing and face mask requirements in the nine hotspots.
The NYPD will still be responsible for providing personnel to carry out the enforcement and ticket violators, Cuomo said. The state will simply take over the reins for overseeing the effort.
The governor didn’t outright rule out shutting down businesses, though.
Instead, he said health authorities will need to develop better data criteria for which businesses should potentially shut down, as opposed to just looking at zip codes. Cuomo did not offer a timeline for when he’ll make an announcement on potential business closures.
De Blasio said he “fully” expects “the state to act quickly,” but added that he and Cuomo are having an “ongoing conversation” on the matter.
Houses of worship could also be shut down under Cuomo’s plan, though when a decision will be made on that was not entirely clear.
Cuomo plans to meet with Orthodox Jewish leaders from the hot spots Tuesday to hammer out a plan for their houses of worship.
If leaders don’t agree to state social distancing guidelines, Cuomo said he will start shutting down synagogues.
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