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’Wear a mask, that’s the law’: Cuomo demands coronavirus enforcement as unrest grows in NYC

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. Cuomo knocked NYPD cops Thursday for not wearing masks and blamed unrest in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community over restrictions meant to curb coronavirus cases on Mayor de Blasio’s failure to enforce past measures.

The governor condemned backlash over closures meant to stem the spread of COVID-19 cases and called on the city to do a better job — and set a better example.

“It would have been better if we’d enforced the law all along and the NYPD has to enforce the law now,” Cuomo griped during a call with reporters. “And the NYPD has to follow the law, by the way. Wear a mask, that’s the law.

“And when you don’t follow the law don’t expect people to follow when you say ‘I’m here to enforce the law.’ It’s an act of hypocrisy.” he added.

Despite voluminous complaints from the public and warnings from higher-ups, NYPD officers have continued to flout mask mandates and are frequently seen without face coverings.

Cuomo’s complaints come after another night of chaotic demonstrations in Brooklyn as hundreds of members of Borough Park’s Hasidic community took to the streets to protest the governor’s decision to close schools and limit houses of worship to a maximum of 10 people following an uptick in coronavirus cases.

No arrests were reported despite several allegations of violent behavior.

Jacob Kornbluh, a reporter for The Jewish Insider said in a series of tweets that he was “brutally assaulted” by members of the crowd during the protest.

Cuomo, who said he spoke to Kornbluh, condemned the violence.

“There is no excuse for violence, especially against a reporter,” he said. “It was disgusting behavior.”

The governor, touting his ties to the Jewish community, blamed the rising tensions on a prolonged lack of enforcement of social distancing and mask-wearing mandates at city level.

“The ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, what’s happening there is the rules were never enforced in these communities,” he said. “If we had enforced the law we wouldn’t be here. If we had enforced the law, it would not be outrageous that we are now enforcing the law.

“And if we’d enforced the law, we wouldn’t be having this problem because we wouldn’t be having this spread,” he added.

Cuomo, in an apparent dig against de Blasio, said “ineffective government” was to blame for the outbreaks and lack of enforcement.

“Ineffective government hurts everyone,” he said. “It’s a worse situation now because the rules weren’t enforced.”

Throughout the pandemic, Cuomo has complained about the city’s failure to crack down on crowds congregating outside bars and restaurants and the lack of direction from de Blaiso.

The Brooklyn cluster is one of several outbreaks across the state in recent weeks. Cuomo said the statewide infection rate on Wednesday was 1.01%, but it was significantly higher, 5.8%, in the hot spot areas, which represent 6% of the state’s population.

The governor also panned criticisms from President Trump, who claimed earlier in the day that New York was “closing down” until after the Nov. 3 election in an effort to sabotage the economy and harm him politically.

“Well, they’re trying to hurt the economy as much as possible — the Democrats — they wanted Nov. 3 because this way they figured the economy would hurt a little bit and my numbers won’t be as good,” Trump told the Fox Business Network.

Cuomo countered by saying that the closures in areas that have seen clusters of cases will only last two weeks and could be lifted well before Election Day.

“The president, once again, is disconnected from reality. He is either lying, or ignorant,” he said. “We aren’t closing down anything…The rules are in place for two weeks…two weeks is before the election.”

“The president is wrong, which happens to be the norm,” he added.


© 2020 New York Daily News