NY cracks down with ‘task force’ to patrol streets, monitor COVID compliance with threat of hefty fines

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Leave it to the State of New York to form a task force to crack down on residents who fail to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions.

Under the leadership of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state has established enforcement zones, or red zones, in response to a surge in coronavirus cases and Rockland County, just north of New York City, now has six people patrolling the county’s designated areas.

 

The COVID-19 enforcement task force can hand out fines of up to $15,000, according to News 12, so it’s not something residents can shrug off.

Portions of Ramapo saw one of the biggest spikes in the state and town officials there said the task force was formed from code enforcement and parking enforcement staff, the cable news channel reported — at least one person is fluent in Yiddish.

In response to a surge, Cuomo issued strict regulations in some area, closing schools and limiting religious gatherings to just 10 people.

The Orthodox Jewish community is under fire in New York, with Cuomo suggesting they are largely responsible for an outbreak of several COVID-19 “clusters” that have cropped up.

In leaked audio of a call with Jewish leaders, the governor said limiting the number of people at religious gatherings was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policy and that he was only trying to make it better.

Cuomo also said the state’s reaction was “a fear-driven response.”

The idea behind the task force is that with more eyes watching, people will comply with the rules, news 12 reported.

“They’ll be going out in teams of twos and threes to visit sites to monitor for compliance and to do enforcement if there is a lack of compliance,” Town of Ramapo Supervisor Michael Specht said.

Specht said he respectfully disagrees with the governor’s approach.

“We don’t have to like it or be happy about it, we just have to work within it,” he said. “We’re hoping once things do improve and there’s data to show that, he will promptly lift the restrictions.”

An official in Suffern said that the task force was needed.

“I think if they were properly trained and given the understanding of what to do and how to do it then I think that sounds great,” Marty Gilbert said. “God knows we need it.”

Members of the Rockland County Department of Health and Fire and Emergency Services reportedly took part in the task force, as well.

“Monday we will be adding Consumer Protection staff to bring our total contribution to 15,” county spokesman John Lyon said.

Cuomo singled out Ramapo and Spring Valley last week, stating that he would yank state funding for schools that remained open in the red zone, and local governments that facilitated it, The Journal News reported.

“If the local government does not effectively enforce the law, we will withhold funding from the local government,” Cuomo said.

The areas have a sizeable Jewish footprint and the governor cited reports of yeshivas remaining open.

Tom Tillison

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