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New York sheriffs refuse to enforce Cuomo’s limit on Thanksgiving gatherings

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At least five upstate New York sheriffs have announced their refusal to enforce the state’s private gathering limit on Thanksgiving mandated by Governor Cuomo. One county is citing mass depression and stress resulting from a “constant barrage” of regulations.

Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino ripped the coronavirus mandate in a scathing Facebook post on Saturday where he joined others pushing back against the state’s restrictions. Cuomo’s order limits Thanksgiving gatherings to 10 people. He has already faced resistance from Staten Island Republican Joe Borelli, who appeared to mock the restriction earlier this month.

Giardino stated on Saturday: “With regard to the Thanksgiving Executive Order, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office will NOT be enforcing it against our County residents.”

“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 in Court, so I won’t,” he added.

“Who and how many people you invite into 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 noted his office, with limited resources, has scant legal options to enter private homes other than search warrants, invitations, or under an “emergency circumstance.”

“We have limited resources and we have to set priorities, so obtaining a Search Warrant to enter your home to see how many Turkey or Tofu eaters are present is not a priority,” Giardino wrote.

Cuomo’s office proceeded to accuse Giardino of playing politics with people’s lives.

“Politicians acting like politicians and ignoring what the actual experts say has been fueling the spread of this virus is what plunged this country in this continued public health crisis in the first place,” said Cuomo’s senior adviser, Richard Azzopardi.

He said: “We urge everyone to continue to be smart and act responsibly. We know this makes people unhappy, but better unhappy than sick or worse.”

Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy also said there will be no Thanksgiving enforcement, and on Monday Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo rebuffed the state order.

“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,” Zurlo said in a press release.

Madison County’s sheriff is asking the public to use common sense if they get together with friends and family for Thanksgiving. Sheriff Todd Hood is encouraging people to wear masks, wash their hands frequently, and not attend if they are sick or at risk.

But what the sheriff’s office will not do, Hood said, is enforce Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new pandemic rule limiting gatherings in private homes to no more than 10 people.

“There is no need to hide cars and sneak around during your attempt to gather with family,” Hood said in a Facebook message Monday. “We are not going to exhaust our limited resources obtaining search warrants and counting the turkey eaters in your house.”

Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard posted on his department’s Facebook page his refusal as well. “I have no plans to utilize my office’s resources or Deputies to break up the great tradition of Thanksgiving dinner,” Howard 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 (Andrew) Cuomo’s mandates.”

Howard added his officers will “respect the sanctity” of residents’ homes.

“I encourage you to follow your heart and act responsibly, as well as do what (sic) best for your family,” he said

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