Governor Cuomo Has Harsh Words For Religious Institutions, Saying He’ll Shut Them Down For Violating Coronavirus Restrictions

( New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is at it again, warning synagogues and other religious communities that he’s will place restrictions on them if they don’t comply with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.

At a press conference Monday, the governor talked about recent coronavirus outbreaks in New York City neighborhoods that have led to Mayor Bill de Blasio implementing stricter restrictions on businesses and places of worship. Cuomo said, “We know religious institutions have been a problem.”

Speaking directly to the Orthodox Jewish community, he said:

“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 said that there are two conditions that religious institutions need to follow. If they don’t follow the conditions, they will be shut down. As the governor said:

“They have to agree that they are going to follow the rules, and they have to agree that they are going to be a full partner in the enforcement of the rules.”

Religious communities in New York have to agree to follow the rules for both wearing masks and for practicing social distancing, otherwise they would be shut down.

He told them:

“If you do not agree to enforce the rules, then we’ll close the institutions down. I am prepared to do that.”

Cuomo was almost brash in his response to the religious institutions. He almost seemed to be taunting the religious groups, threatening them to break his rules or else. This was especially apparent when he said:

“We have to close a temple because it’s over 50%? I’ll do it. We have to close a Roman Catholic church? I’ll do it. I had to close the St. Patrick’s Day parade. I did it.”

The big question, of course, is whether Cuomo has the legal right to do so. Many religious institutions have challenged coronavirus restrictions around the country that have forced them to close but allowed large-scale protests against police brutality, for example.

But Cuomo says he believes he is OK to put the restrictions in place if necessary. He said:

“We believe we have the legal authority. We will assert the legal authority. We have been sued by the religious organizations. Our legal authority was upheld. I don’t like getting into a litigious situation with the religious community. I have enough questions that I have to answer when I get to the Pearly Gates.

“I don’t want to also be questioned as to why I was sued by the Catholic church or the Jewish community for closing temples. So, I have enough issues on my plate. But yes, we believe we have the legal authority.”

Accompanying these statements was an announcement by Cuomo that the state would be forming a task force to ensure that religious institutions and schools comply with the state’s new restrictions. It’s even possible that members of the task force could station themselves outside churches to ensure they don’t exceed the limit on the number of people inside.