COVID red zone violations caught on camera in NYC spark concern

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, October 15, 2020
State could withhold funding from schools in red zones
Josh Einiger reports a Yeshiva in Brooklyn was shutdown due to flagrant violation of COVID restrictions.

MIDWOOD, Brooklyn (WABC) -- As officials push to lower the number of COVID-19 cases in New York City's hot zones, enforcement concerns continue.

There have been several incidents of people blatantly not following the restrictions in those red zones - and there is fear about what this could mean as work continues to curb the infection rate.

At Borough Park Yeshiva on Wednesday night, young men were seen scrutinizing a vacate order courtesy of the buildings department, after city inspectors found them going about their business in flagrant violation of state laws meant to protect public health.

This comes on the same night New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to withhold funding from schools, within red zones, that refuse to close.

RELATED | Executive order allows NY to withhold funding from schools violating COVID restrictions

Eyewitness News found hundreds of young children being dismissed from a school in the red zone, and people leaving a large indoor gathering in another hot spot.

The order came late Wednesday night from the governor, who earlier said he was sending a letter to all the schools -- public and private -- in the red zone areas to inform them that they must be closed and that he will withhold funding from those that remain open.

The governor says many in the ultra-orthodox community never observed the original shutdown mandates from the spring and have driven the current clusters that threaten the city's recovery.

"The governor and the mayor have a responsibility to keep the city safe," Young Israel of Flatbush Rabbi Kenneth Auman said.

But others were lamenting how they'd become collateral damage of the irresponsible conduct of others.

A modern orthodox congregation already was following strict masking and social distancing rules.

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"How many people does the sanctuary accommodate? I think about 650, and now you can only have? 10," Auman said. "We're doing what we can and we're doing a very good job of it here so to be told we can only have 10 people here is very very disappointing for us. It's really really not fair."

Despite all the messaging in the world and all the enforcement, city inspectors still face non-compliance in deeply religious, traditional communities, where their authority is about as welcom as the outside scrutiny it brings.

In just a few days, city inspectors have already issued dozens and dozens of violations as some people continue to flout emergency social distancing laws.

The city says this enforcement will continue until the positivity rate drops.

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