New York Sheriff’s Refusing to Enforce Cuomo COVID Mandate for Indoor Thanksgiving Gatherings to Under 10 People on Constitutional Challenges

NEW YORK, NY – Amid reports that cases of COVID-19 are starting to spike once again in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo responded by announcing last week that indoor gatherings at private residences must be restricted in size to 10 people or less; with Thanksgiving coming up next week, that’s sure to put a dent in the plans of many families state-wide.

However, some Sheriffs in New York – particularly in upstate counties – have very publicly refused to enforce Cuomo’s order on gathering sizes when it comes to Turkey Day, saying that it should be up to individual residents to decide what goes on in their own home.

Among the dissenters is Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino, who recently issued a viral Facebook post stating that his department will not be “obtaining a Search Warrant to enter your home to see how many Turkey or Tofu eaters are present.”

“With regard to the Thanksgiving Executive Order, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office will NOT be enforcing it against our County residents,” he said. “Frankly, I am not sure it could sustain a Constitutional challenge in Court for several reasons including your house is your castle. Who and how many people you invite in to your home is your business, unlike outdoor gatherings which may receive a police response if disorderly or other violations of public nuisance laws occur.”

Likewise, in Erie County, Sheriff Timothy B. Howard issued a Facebook statement, denouncing Cuomo’s decree while nonetheless encouraging residents to exercise caution during the Thanksgiving holiday.


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“I have no plans to utilize my office’s resources or Deputies to break up the great tradition of Thanksgiving dinner,” he said. “This national holiday has created longstanding family traditions that are at the heart of America, and these traditions should not be stopped or interrupted by Governor Cuomo’s mandates. My office will respect the sanctity of your home and traditions, and I encourage you to follow your heart and act responsibly, as well as do what’s best for your family.”

Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo also put out a news release informing residents that his department will not prioritize enforcing Cuomo’s gathering limits this Thanksgiving.

“We have seen an increase in a variety of call types and have to prioritize,” he said. “I can’t see how devoting our resources to counting cars in citizens’ driveways or investigating how much turkey and dressing they’ve purchased is for the public good.”

In addition to ordering a cap on gathering sizes, Cuomo’s mandate also established a 10 p.m. curfew on restaurants, bars, and gyms state-wide. Restaurants can still offer curb-side pickup after 10, however.

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