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New York sheriff takes defiant stand against Gov. Cuomo's COVID restrictions impacting Thanksgiving


'People have common sense'

BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images

One New York sheriff is taking a stand for those residents who live in his jurisdiction, pushing back against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's new coronavirus-related Thanksgiving restrictions.

What's the background?

Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, Cuomo announced new restrictions as COVID-19 cases surge worldwide.

Although Cuomo declared victory over COVID-19 despite his nursing home scandal — even writing a book about his leadership during the pandemic — the Democratic governor announced gatherings in the Empire State would again be limited to just 10 people, including at private residences.

Cuomo justified the new restrictions by citing "science."

"New York follows the science. We know indoor gatherings and parties are a major source of COVID spread. To slow the spread, NYS will limit indoor gatherings at private residences to 10 people. This limit takes effect Friday at 10pm," Cuomo announced last week.

Cuomo did not, however, reveal how the new restrictions would be enforced, instead giving discretion to local authorities.

What is the sheriff saying?

Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino responded by announcing that his deputies would not be enforcing Cuomo's new restrictions.

Giardino, who holds a law degree, explained that he does not believe Cuomo's latest executive order is constitutional.

"With regard to the Thanksgiving Executive Order, the Fulton County Sheriff's Office will NOT be enforcing it against our County residents," Giardino wrote in a Facebook post.

"Frankly, I am not sure it could sustain a Constitutional challenge in Court for several reasons including your house is your castle. And as a Sheriff with a law degree I couldn't in good faith attempt to defend it Court, so I won't," he explained. "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."

Giardino later said that he trusts his residents to use their "own judgement," but urged them to take necessary precautions if they are around someone who is particularly vulnerable to COVID.

Meanwhile, Giardino said in an interview with the Albany Times Union that Cuomo is "scaring the hell out of people," explaining government overreach should not legislate where citizens are perfectly capable of exercising "common sense."

"People have common sense. They are not going to jeopardize family members. They are not going to jeopardize close friends. Most people respect the masks," Giardino said. "Basically, as a lawyer, former DA and judge, if I got brought into court, I can't justify it constitutionally. The threat is not so great that we should be limiting who they can have for Thanksgiving."

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