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Cuomo tells NY police to break up funerals, social gatherings; fines will be $1,000

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a coronavirus press conference at the governor';s Manhattan office on March 2 in Manhattan, New York. (Barry Williams/New York Daily News/TNS)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is continuing to stress social distancing in New York state and warning people who refuse to comply.

PIX-11 reports Cuomo said he’d seen reports of increases in social activity over the weekend, including at funerals and parks, and urged police to be “more aggressive” in shutting them down.

“Now is not the time to play frisbee with your friends at the park. Now is not the time to go to a funeral with 200 people,” Cuomo said Monday during a press briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.

“I want to be, frankly, more aggressive on the enforcement… The localities have the legal right and responsibility to enforce the law. Just do your job.”

Cuomo increased the maximum fine for social distancing violations from $500 to $1,000. All schools and non-essential businesses are closed, and non-essential workers have been ordered to stay at home until at least April 29; exceptions are allowed for buying groceries and medicine, but people must stay at least six feet apart while going out and are advised to wear masks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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“It’s not really about the fine. Nobody wants the money,” Cuomo said. “We want the compliance. We are serious.”

People magazine reports NYPD broke up crowds at multiple funerals within the Hasidic Jewish community in New York City on Sunday. Concerned citizens contacted police, who told mourners they must leave.

“The NYPD needs all New Yorkers to cooperate with the ban on social gatherings in order to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. It is important to note that the vast majority are following all guidelines,” an NYPD spokesperson said in a statement. “The NYPD will continue to enforce social distancing and any large gathering — including services — put both members of the public and officers at risk. These gatherings must cease immediately.”

Cuomo said Monday that the number of daily deaths and hospitalizations has begun to flatten over the past two days, but warned that the curve could continue trending upwards if people don’t continue social distancing.

“We get reckless, we change or we’re not compliant on social distancing, you will see those numbers go up again. We underestimate this virus at our own peril. Now is not the time to slack off on what we’re doing,” the governor said. “There’s a real danger in getting over-confident too quickly. While the numbers look like they may be turning and it’s ‘yay it’s over.’ No, it’s not. Other places have made that mistake. Hong Kong and South Korea… we are not going to make that mistake.”

“It’s not about your life; you don’t have the right to risk someone else’s life.”

New York state has more than 130,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Monday; 4,758 have died from COVID-19 or complications related to the disease caused by coronavirus.

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© 2020 Syracuse Media Group