With COVID cases still relatively high in cluster zones located in Brooklyn and Queens, the city and state have moved to isolate those areas by forcing closures of businesses and schools.

But Cuomo said Wednesday that doesn’t go far enough. He said the city needs to take the next step, which is more aggressive enforcement.

What You Need To Know

  • Governor Cuomo says city not doing enough to enforce mask compliance and social distancing as COVID cases rise

  • Cuomo says city will lose state funding if it doesn’t do a better job of enforcement

  • Critics compared Cuomo’s threat to similar ones made by President Trump

“If the local government does not effectively enforce the law, we will withhold funds from the local government,” Cuomo said at a daily coronavirus press conference.

“Let's be clear: What drives NYC's COVID response and enforcement is the threat of a second wave, not threats of federal or state funding cuts,” a spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio responded on Twitter.

The move echoes President Trump, who has threatened to withhold federal funds from New York numerous times over ideological policy disagreements.

“I don’t like to do that,” Cuomo added. “Budgets are tough all across the board. I don’t know how else to get them to actually do the enforcement they need to do. So, hopefully that will motivate them. Because nothing else I have done has motivated them."

Cuomo has previously lamented that the city is lax when it comes to mask wearing and social distancing enforcement. But threatening to withhold state money at a time when the city’s coffers are slim, didn’t sit well with some lawmakers. 

“Is he going to label them anarchist jurisdictions too,” said Deputy State Senate Majority Leader Gianaris, responding on Twitter. “If this threat is implemented and desperately needed funds are withheld, the legislature should reconvene immediately and revoke emergency powers.”

“If I had to do this all over again, a lot of lessons learned, I would have had the state take over or hire statewide enforcement,” Cuomo said. “Because the enforcement from the local governments is very uneven.”

Cuomo also announced that the promoter of a Long Island rock concert in July would be fined $20,000. The concert by the Chainsmokers, held in the tiny town of Southampton on long Island’s East End, drew more than 2,000 people who were not adhering to social distancing protocols.