New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he is preparing to shut down synagogues in New York City if the Jewish community living there doesn’t abide by the coronavirus guidelines.
The governor made the remarks during a press conference Monday in which he announced that he would also be closing down schools for in-person classes in areas of Brooklyn and Queens where confirmed cases are reportedly surging.
“I have to say to the Orthodox community tomorrow, ‘if you’re not willing to live with these rules, then I’m going to close the synagogues,'” Cuomo threatened.
Later in the press conference, he added: “Enforcement is kind. You know why? Because enforcement saves lives. Any rule is only as good as the enforcement.”
“Too many local governments are not doing enforcement. Warnings are not enforcement,” he said. “You will see people die if we don’t do more enforcement.”
The governor said that the state would be taking over the coronavirus response in the city’s hot spots after he had been disappointed with the city’s response.
According to the New York Post, Cuomo indicated that under the new state response, “the Department of Health and the state police would run a task force to issue summonses at a clip far more furious than the city has.”
Part of that effort appears to be the threatening of religious communities. Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan for handling the recent surge did not punish religious institutions, though the areas experiencing outbreaks are home to large Orthodox Jewish populations.
“We’re not going to make the same mistake twice,” Cuomo said in regard to dealing with the Jewish communities.
Cuomo admitted in the press conference that limiting gatherings for religious institutions is “a politically uncomfortable situation” and “right on the line of government intrusion on religion.” Yet that’s clearly not stopping him from moving forward with the actions.
The threats from Cuomo are reminiscent of warnings issued earlier this year by de Blasio. The mayor, though he didn’t recommend closing religious institutions during this most recent outbreak, threatened in March to permanently close churches and synagogues that didn’t comply with his pandemic rules.