- The Washington Times - Monday, October 5, 2020

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s ready and willing “to close the synagogues” over continued resistance to coronavirus rules by the Orthodox Jewish community.

The Democrat made the comment Monday while talking to reporters about the tensions that come as politicians attempt to enforce their will on religious communities throughout the nation.

“I think it’s not just a New York City issue,” he said when asked about the political tightrope that Mayor Bill de Blasio is walking. “You’re dealing with government saying to religions, ‘you shouldn’t have more than X people in your church or your mosque or your temple.’”

Mr. Cuomo added that on some level the city doesn’t have the law-enforcement resources to enforce widespread rejection of COVID-19 rules by certain segments of the population.

“The Sheriff’s Office has 150 people,” he said. “What do you think 150 people are going to do? I mean, it’s just not enough. … 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. … It’s a difficult conversation and you’re right on the line of government intrusion on religion.”

The government’s comments, sure to spark a First Amendment fight, come in conjunction with the creation of a task force ready to enforce rules where clusters of virus outbreaks are occurring.

Officials have once again shut down schools in nine zip codes, although small businesses have at least temporarily avoided a similar fate. 

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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