NEW YORK - A federal judge says the state can enforce its new restrictions on houses of worship and schools in Brooklyn and Queens hot spots.
The judge denied the Brooklyn Diocese's request for a temporary restraining order limiting the size of gatherings in COVID-19 hotspots.
This comes after a similar lawsuit from Orthodox Jewish groups was also blocked Friday.
The ruling found that Governor Cuomo's order does not violate religious freedoms or First Amendment rights, and that the State has a duty to protect public health.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said in a statement that the Brooklyn Diocese will comply with the ruling but said that this is just the beginning of the case and he expects the church will prevail.
“We believe this blanket prohibition against using our churches, diminishing the numbers to so few, it doesn’t make any sense,” DiMarzio said.
There are 28 churches, 14 each, that fall within a red or orange zone, according to DiMarzio. The red zone restricts the religious gatherings to no more than 10; the orange, to 25.
“[The restrictions] should be proportional to the size of the building,” said DiMarzio.
“In effect, we have to close. We cannot have 10 people come in - one of them has to be the priest - so nine people, can we shut the doors after nine people come in? So in effect, we have to close. What are people going to do? So we have to say churches are closed this weekend. We will live stream,” DiMarzio explained.
Police will be out this weekend enforcing and possibly issuing summonses to those not following the safety mandates. Which includes a $1,000 fine for not wearing a mask.
The hot spot restrictions are in place for two weeks, but officials say if COVID-19 rates don’t come down they could last several weeks longer.