Borough Park

Protests greet move to impose new virus shutdowns in NYC

October 7, 2020 Associated Press
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Borough Park erupted in protests after Gov. Andrew Cuomo moved to reinstate restrictions on houses of worship, schools and businesses in areas where coronavirus cases are spiking.

Videos of Tuesday night’s protest on social media show hundreds of Orthodox Jewish men gathered in the streets of the Brooklyn neighborhood, in some cases setting bonfires by burning masks.

The New York Post reported that when a journalist working for the newspaper tried to take photos and video of the scene, several men without masks rushed him and chased him to his car. A police spokesperson said there were no arrests.

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The new rules announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday will affect parts of Brooklyn and Queens in New York City, sections of Orange and Rockland counties in the Hudson Valley and an area within Binghamton in the Southern Tier.

Most of the New York City and Hudson Valley neighborhoods are home to large enclaves of Orthodox Jews, and community leaders have complained of being singled out for enforcement.

“We are sick of the hypocrisy and double standards!” said Brooklyn Assemblymember Dov Hikind. “Yes, our community can and should do better, but so should much of the city and especially our ‘leadership!’”

Four elected officials who represent Orthodox neighborhoods in New York City complained Tuesday that they had been left out of the decision-making process.

“Though we are the representatives of ‘hotspot’ neighborhoods, we have been disincluded from conversations with the governor and his leadership team as they made devastating decisions affecting the people we serve,” state Sen. Simcha Felder, Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein and City Councilmembers Chaim Deutsch and Kalman Yeger said in a statement.

Under Cuomo’s rules, only 10 people at a time will be allowed to gather in churches and synagogues in the hearts of the virus hot spots. The leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn said the order would unjustly hamper the diocese’s ability to serve parishioners.

“Catholic Churches in Brooklyn and Queens have not had any COVID outbreaks or significant cases since re-opening on July 5th to 25 percent capacity. We fervently object to being told to further reduce capacity, because we have strictly adhered to COVID-19 protocols, and the safety measures have been working,” Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said.

The new restrictions came a day after Cuomo ordered the closing of schools in nine Brooklyn and Queens ZIP codes that have accounted for more than 25 percent of all new infections in the city over the past two weeks while representing just 7 percent of the population.

Schools began closing Tuesday. Implementation of additional shutdowns of nonessential business and the limits on religious gatherings will likely start Thursday, a City Hall spokesperson said on Twitter.

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