On Nov. 11, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued two new Covid-19 restrictions as positive cases continued to inch up in New York state. The governor announced mandatory 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. closures for all restaurants, bars, other businesses with state liquor licenses and gyms. Curbside pickup and delivery may continue past 10, but not the sale of alcohol.
Cuomo’s press release continued: “Indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences will be limited to no more than 10 people. The limit will be implemented due to the recent prevalence of COVID spread resulting from small indoor gatherings including Halloween parties. These gatherings have become a major cause of cluster activity across the state. Further, this public health measure brings New York State in line with neighboring states including Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.”
With Thanksgiving and the holiday season rapidly approaching, the Herald took to Facebook to ask Wantagh and Seaford residents for their opinions of the new regulations. While their responses varied, many focused on spending time with loved ones during the holidays, and how they would manage to do so.
“As I don’t usually have more than 10 people for Thanksgiving,” Maria Ruggiero Fasano, of Wantagh, told the Herald, “I still think it’s very unfair to dictate how many members of our own family that we are ‘allowed’ to see. None of us know what the next day brings, so spending time with family right now is most important.”
Many shared Ruggiero Fasano’s sentiments, while others voiced their support for Cuomo’s mandates, citing the Covid statistics. “I think he’s doing what he has to do to try and slow down a re-emerging surge,” posted Laurie Weinroth, of Seaford.
Another Seaford resident, Lisa Franco, pointed to another possible round of increasing hospitalizations. “It shouldn’t be
political,” she posted. “People should do the right thing for society and themselves. Wear your mask and keep your circle smaller this year. Not by mandate, but because it’s what needs to be done so that our healthcare system doesn’t collapse.”
Andrea Poole, also of Seaford, told the Herald she understood the importance of being cautious, but added, “However, I believe in the freedom to make your own decisions for your own family.” Other residents of Wantagh and Seaford agreed. Many asked how a restriction on private residential gatherings could be enforced.
“The rules are only as good as the enforcement,” Cuomo stated in the release. “Local governments are in charge of enforcement. There are only two fundamental truths in this situation: it’s individual discipline and it’s government enforcement. Period. End of sentence. I need the local governments to enforce this.”
Nassau County Legislator Steve Rhoads, who represents Wantagh and Seaford in District 19, said he understood Cuomo’s intent, and believed his reasoning was sound, but Rhoads wasn’t sure, either, how the new rules could be enforced. “The restriction that the governor is putting on homes for private family gatherings for Thanksgiving now, I think that is over-reaching,” he said. “If you have a family of 12 over for Thanksgiving, police cannot force entry into your home to be able to check that.”
At a news conference on Nov. 12, County Executive Laura Curran said the mandates were a direct result of increases in coronavirus cases. The percentage of positive tests in the county had ticked up to 3.2 percent. “That is a big number for us,” she said before noting how that increase was affecting local businesses.
“The uptick we are seeing is really from social gatherings,” Curran said. “. . . I am so proud of our businesses that have done such a great job going above and beyond the protocols and guidelines, but are now facing these restrictions, because of these social gatherings. It’s like the folks who have been playing by the rules are now facing the restrictions.”