Mayor de Blasio put city agencies on notice Wednesday over complaints coming from Orthodox Jewish communities about the enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines.

De Blasio said Orthodox leaders have expressed “a real concern” about discriminatory enforcement since several neighborhoods were put under lockdown because of spikes in coronavirus cases.

Mayor de Blasio holds a media availability Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

“That’s absolutely unacceptable,” he said. “We cannot, in this moment, have any enforcement or anything else that is unfair or unequal.”

He then noted that he would convey that to city agencies responsible for enforcing COVID guidelines.

The state forced stores and schools to shut down in several neighborhoods two weeks ago after COVID cases began to spike. Gov. Cuomo lifted restrictions on some neighborhoods in Queens on Wednesday, but the lockdown still remains in effect in Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Borough Park and Midwood, which have sizable Orthodox populations.

De Blasio’s remarks Wednesday come as Cuomo has repeatedly called for stepped-up enforcement of mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines in areas seeing surges.

The mayor said Wednesday that his administration would be talking with the state on how to find the “right balance” between enforcing guidelines and foregoing penalties over minor infractions.

“I don’t want to see any store penalized on a technicality that isn’t about health and safety,” he said. “There was a tremendous concern that there was enforcement that was arbitrary, and we don’t want that. This is something we’ll be talking with the state about.”


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