Watch CBS News

Gov. Cuomo Warns NYC Leaders To Step Up Mask And Social Distancing Enforcement, Could Hit City With $10,000 Fine

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There are setbacks in the coronavirus pandemic in New York City.

CBS2 has obtained new evidence that many people living in areas where there are COVID-19 clusters continue to ignore safety precautions.

Now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is threatening to fine the city if it doesn't fix things, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported Friday.

Video from Williamsburg vividly documents the problems officials are having trying to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in 20 problematic zip codes.

It shows crowds of Orthodox Jews, many without masks, walking on the street, shopping and apparently preparing for the holiday of Sukkot, which started Friday night.

"A lot of people are getting comfortable," said Izequiel Abreu of Williamsburg.

CBS2 also obtained advertisements, in Hebrew, selling tickets to concerts next week, apparently in Borough Park, where the seating chart indicates they expect to sell hundreds of tickets.

It's not clear if masks and social distancing rules will be enforced.

This comes as the governor steps up pressure on Mayor Bill de Blasio and local officials to increase enforcement, not only on the mask law, but on laws limiting the sizes of gatherings.

"The numbers are continuing to go up in many of the zip codes. That means, by definition, compliance is not where it needs to be," Cuomo said on a conference call.


The governor said he's going to enforce Section 16 of the health law, which will allow him to fine the city $10,000 for violations.

"If the local governments don't step up the compliance, they will actually be in violation of the law and they can be fined," Cuomo said.

Meanwhile, some Jewish leaders are begging fellow Jews to wear masks and follow the law to prevent an increase in anti-Semitism.

"Anti-Semitism just did not begin and it will not end, and I don't want to have incidents perpetrated by people directed towards the Jewish community, or one segment of that community because we're not wearing a mask," said Michael Nussbaum, with the Queens Jewish Community Council.

It's unclear what New York City is doing in terms of enforcement.

RELATED STORY: New Jersey Health Officials Trying To Contain COVID-19 Outbreak As Cases Surge In Ocean County

Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio said 16 violations were given out, but it's unclear for what.

The NYPD is refusing to say how many people were fined for not wearing masks. Remember, you can be fined up to $1,000 for breaking social distancing rules.

Earlier on Friday, CBS2's John Dias reported many in Williamsburg were prepared for the rain, but not the pandemic. They were still walking around without face coverings, or not wearing them correctly.

On Thursday, officers - with masks and PPE in hand - stood outside a corner market in Williamsburg, insisting the men, women and children passing by put on masks.

"If you look at the vast majority of the city right now, most neighborhoods are at 1% or less," said de Blasio. "I don't want to see a shutdown in these neighborhoods, but we've been very clear now for several days, and community leaders have heard it, and they know it, that that is a live possibility if we don't see a turnaround in these numbers soon."

Watch John Dias' Report:

"There should be enforcement. Enforcement works," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

Some say the stepped up enforcement is unfairly targeting the Orthodox Jewish population.

On man in Williamsburg said he blames the media.

"The sickness is not so bad as the media makes it," he said.

Some people appeared to put masks on when they saw CBS2's cameras, while others refused to say why they were not wearing one.

"It doesn't make any logic," said another.

RELATED STORY: N.Y., N.J. Unveil New 'COVID Alert' Apps That Notify Users If They're Within 6 Feet Of Someone Who Has Tested Positive

Another man, who did have a mask on, said he was confused about why they're required.

"I'm doing this to protect you. So, I'm not spitting and talking," Dias said to him. "But, if you're not wearing it, nothing's stopping you from harming me."

"Why, you're wearing a mask?" the man said.

"No, no, I can still breathe it in," Dias said.

"So, what's the use of the mask?" the man asked.

"The mask is stopping you from giving it to me," Dias said.

You can get the latest news, sports and weather on our brand new CBS New York app. Download here.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.