Sheriffs across the state of New York are telling their residents that they will not be enforcing Governor Cuomo’s restrictions on private, Thanksgiving gatherings.
Many governors in recent weeks have been placing tighter restrictions on residents as the holidays approach. They cite rising case numbers of COVID-19 as their reason for limiting via executive orders the number of guests you can invite to a holiday meal.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has told New Yorkers that Thanksgiving gatherings must be limited to 10 people.
But several New York sheriffs have spoken up to reassure citizens that they will not be arrested or fined if more than 10 people show up to their homes this Thanksgiving.
“With regard to the Thanksgiving Executive Order, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office will NOT be enforcing it against our County residents,” wrote Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino on Facebook.
“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.
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.
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. We won’t be doing that. The only way to enter your residence is if we have a warrant, we are invited in or an exigent or emergency circumstance exist. We have three patrols a shift for 500 square miles, monitoring Family Dinners aren’t our priority.
So don’t feel a need to hide cars, cover with leaves or walk 3 blocks so your house doesn’t become a target of the Governors EO.”
Likewise, Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard wrote to Facebook:
“I have no plans to utilize my office’s resources or Deputies to break up the great tradition of Thanksgiving dinner. 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 Cuomo’s mandates.
My office will respect the sanctity of your home and traditions, and I encourage you to follow your heart and act responsibly, as well as to do what’s best for your family.”
Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy joined the ranks of sheriffs refusing to govern the goings-on of private home gatherings. He advised citizens who have the virus, have symptoms, or are high risk to avoid family gatherings, but said that he would not be engaging in any type of “Thanksgiving Crackdown.”
“Who and how many people you have at your house for Thanksgiving is your business. I think we’ve all had quite a 2020 and can use our own best judgment without government oversight of a sacred and special holiday.”
Sheriff Giardino told Bill Hemmer of Fox News on Monday that he felt the need to issue a public statement after being approached by an elderly veteran leaving a grocery store. The veteran and his wife wanted to attend their family’s Thanksgiving meal, but were worried that a 14-member gathering would alert authorities and that their son would be fined and lose his job.
“I was stunned they would say that,” said Giardino. “And I said we’re not going to do that.”
“I felt so bad for the man that him and his family would think that local law enforcement who are there to serve and protect them would actually enter their home or ticket them…”
Giardino reported that not only does he not have the manpower to monitor everyone’s living rooms and driveways on Thanksgiving, but he believes that Cuomo’s orders are doing more harm than good. He said that his county has seen double the amount of mental health cases that they had in the same six months in 2019.
“One of the worst things we’re seeing is the isolation of people not being able to engage with other people,” he said.
Giardino told Hemmer that there’s a big difference between setting seating capacity limits at bars and restaurants and creating orders regarding private gatherings in homes and with family.
“Constitutionally,” he said, “there’s some problems with an executive order. There’s no sanctions. I can’t go arrest somebody, they don’t get fined.”