No more warnings: Cuomo executive order cracks down on schools in COVID hot zones

MIDWOOD, Brooklyn (WABC) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to withhold funding from schools, within red zones, that refuse to close.

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.

It doesn't mean that the governor will take action immediately, it means that he now has the power to do so if he chooses.

Additionally, the governor announced that the schools that have already been identified as violating the closure order will be served with a notice mandating a close and informing them that the state will begin withholding funding from them.

Cuomo said the state will continue to withhold funding from these schools until the matter is resolved to the state's satisfaction.

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Josh Einiger reports a Yeshiva in Brooklyn was shutdown due to flagrant violation of COVID restrictions.



"We know there were violations where the yeshivas are operating," Cuomo said. "We know there were violations where religious gatherings were happening that exceeded guidelines."

Cuomo also announced he is sending a letter to New York City, Orange County, Rockland County, the Town of Ramapo and the Village of Spring Valley saying he will withhold funding from if they don't enforce social distancing regulations.

Following Cuomo's announcement, Rockland County Executive Ed Day released a statement saying the state and county were working together to address the issues in Ramapo and Spring Valley.

"Today, four staff members from the Rockland County Department of Health have partnered with NYS personnel and are undertaking patrol and enforcement actions within the Red and Yellow Cluster Zones. We have identified ten additional County personnel to join these efforts in the coming days, and I thank them for rising to this challenge," Day said.

Wednesday's announcement comes as 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 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.

In Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, on Tuesday night a crowd was spotted leaving what appeared to be a large indoor gathering. Many people were seen on camera not wearing masks.

And on the same day that the mayor praised efforts to suppress the coronavirus, Eyewitness News found hundreds of young children being dismissed from a school. They were herded onto buses Tuesday afternoon, some wearing masks, some not. All of them were attending Bais Yaacov School on 51st Street.

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CeFaan Kim has new details in an exclusive on a school in Brooklyn that remained open on Tuesday despite being in a COVID red zone.



The building is inside the state's red zone and should have been closed starting last week.

This is happening as the mayor says the infection rates do appear to be leveling off after the city's test and trace corps flooded Brooklyn. While Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the declining rates, he had a warning.

"We don't want to give fines if we don't have to, but people have to see there are consequences," he said. "So we've had some very powerful enforcement efforts. They are being duly noted in all the communities affected. And hopefully by showing that that is a real possibility, the vast majority of people are never going to get to the point where they need a fine."

Cuomo also announced that following an investigation into the Chainsmokers concert in the Hamptons this summer, the promoters will be fined $20,000 for violating public health law. Further, the Town of Southampton cannot approve permits for group gatherings without State approval.

Cuomo also said the clusters and upticks are "the way things are going to be for the foreseeable future" because the state is testing so much, they are identifying the hot spots. At another point he said he expects clusters to be popping up for the next year.

Click here to view the cluster maps if using the mobile app

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Josh Einiger has the latest in the ongoing protests and backlash caused by New York's new COVID restrictions.



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