Many Local Sheriffs Won’t Enforce Limit On Thanksgiving Guests
One local sheriff believes enforcing Cuomo's limit on Thanksgiving "raises several Constitutional questions."
In September, the CDC recommended people not to celebrate Thanksgiving with anyone they don't live with. The health agency added large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your home on Thanksgiving as a high-risk activity to spread COVID-19.
In late October, Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged New Yorkers to use caution during the upcoming holidays and recommended against families getting together for Thanksgiving.
Earlier this month, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 Cuomo announced a number of new restrictions. All restaurants, bars and gyms must now close each night by 10 p.m. Cuomo also announced indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences will be limited to no more than 10 people.
The limit on the number of people inside a home angered some New Yorkers who felt Cuomo was forcing them to cancel or limit their Thanksgiving. A growing number of sheriffs in New York say they won't enforce the limit on Thanksgiving gatherings.
Hudson Valley Posted posed the question to local sheriff's. Not all responded, but Putnam County Sheriff Robert L. Langley Jr. issued the following statement:
I am not encouraging people to have large gatherings in their homes, but rather asking everyone to use their own best judgment to remain safe. Would a gathering of eleven people be a greater danger than a gathering of ten, or would a gathering of nine people be substantially less dangerous? I’m not certain of what the correct number for safety would be and doubt if any one does.
There are a lot of factors that would come into play in determining how many people to have in your home. Are any of them at high-risk? From where are they travelling? Is it more or less likely that they have been recently exposed to the disease? Are they regularly in your circle of contacts anyway? Is your home large enough that you can safely accommodate a larger number of guests? These are questions that I believe each family needs to answer themselves.
Rather than issuing orders, which are, at best, impossible to enforce, and, at worst, unconstitutional, the Governor would better serve the People of New York if he encouraged our citizens to be cautious, use good judgment in weighing risk factors, protect the vulnerable, and enjoy our families and our great gathering traditions only in ways that are safe, until we can get back to normal.
As Sheriff, I see a better use of our resources than to disrupt families celebrating this national holiday. I wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
Ulster County police say they're not planning to enforce the rule, according to NewsSource.
In the Upper Hudson Valley, Greene County Sheriff Peter J. Kusminsky issued the following statement:
The Greene County Sheriff’s Office is not going to be actively enforcing executive orders regarding gatherings in peoples’ homes. We do not have the resources, or inclination, to peep into everyone’s home to see how many people are at the dinner table. Even if the Executive Order did purport to establish a crime of “Exceeding 10 People in a Residence”, it would be unconstitutionally vague, and we would have no practical way of enforcing it. We could not enter a private home to count the occupants without a search warrant, and could not likely get one, even if we were inclined to seek one. And how could we credibly explain to a citizen that it is okay to eat with more than 49 strangers in a restaurant, but eating at home with 10 other family members will result in arrest?
Enforcement of the Executive Order raises several Constitutional questions. Serious issues about the right of people to privacy in their homes, the right to be free from warrantless searches, the right to assemble, the right to freedom of religious practice, the right to equal treatment under the law, and the right to have criminal conduct clearly defined by law are all implicated by the Governor’s Executive Order.
I have also conferred with The Greene County District Attorney who concurs with our assessment and would just recommend everyone be safe and responsible.
We are not encouraging people to have large gatherings in their homes. We want citizens to use their own best judgment and remain safe. We do not know the correct number for safety. We doubt if any one does. Would a gathering of eleven people be substantially more dangerous than a gathering of ten? We think a lot of factors would come into play in determining how many people to have in your home. Are any of them at high-risk? From where are they travelling? Is it more or less likely that they have been recently exposed to the disease? Are they regularly in your circle of contacts anyway? Is your home large enough that you can safely accommodate a larger number of guests?