Anger in Rockland County as Cuomo's COVID 'Cluster Action' restrictions take effect

Rockland County's COVID-19 coronavirus infection rate has risen to 4.5%
MONSEY, Rockland County (WABC) -- Enforcement of new restrictions began Monday in COVID cluster zones across New York, including in Rockland County, where hotspots have the highest coronavirus positivity rate in the state.

On Thursday, a robo call went out to 29,000 landlines informing residents that the new measures would take effect at midnight.

The backlash was swift.

"It doesn't make sense," said Yossi Gestetner, of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council. "Scientifically it doesn't make sense. Morally, it seems to be completely off the rails. And people are certainly frustrated."

Related: Rockland County targeted in Cuomo's COVID 'Cluster Action' initiative

The COVID cluster encompasses Monsey, Spring Valley and New Square, three communities comprised of primarily of Ultra Orthodox Jews.

The concern is the recent spike in the positivity rate, and under the new order, non essential businesses must close.

"And when you see it growing anywhere, then blow the whistle, send all the firefighters to put out those embers," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "And that's what we're doing."

Related: Cuomo says Trump inciting Orthodox Jews against him, cites robocall and tweet

As for religious services, gatherings are limited to 10 people -- particularly difficult as Jews are in the midst of celebrating Sukkot.

"Twenty nine counties are above 1%," Gestetner said. "Ten counties are above 2%. Half a dozen counties are at 4, 5, 6, 7%, including counties where you wouldn't find an Orthodox Jew."

Related: Lawsuits filed by Brooklyn Diocese, Jewish groups over new NY COVID restrictions

Figures released Friday show Rockland's positivity rate at 5.6%, while Orange County checks in at 3.65%.

The measures will be in effect for at least 14 days, meaning yeshivas that closed due to the holiday will not be allowed to reopen as normal Monday.

Rules in the red area:

-Houses of worship - 25% capacity, 10 people maximum
-Mass gatherings prohibited
-Nonessential businesses closed
-Takeout dining only
-Schools closed

Rules in the orange area:

-Houses of worship - 33% capacity, 25 people maximum
-Mass gatherings - 10 people maximum, indoor and outdoor
-Businesses - Closing high risk nonessential business such as gyms and personal care
-Outdoor dining only with 4 person max per table
- Schools: remote learning only

Rules in the yellow area

-Houses of worship -50% capacity
-Mass gatherings - 25 people maximum, indoor and outdoor
-Businesses open
-Indoor and outdoor dining
-Schools - Mandatory weekly testing of students/teachers/staff for in-person classes. Testing will start next week.

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