MEMBERS of the Orthodox Jewish community burned masks to protest NY Gov Cuomo's orders to close schools and ban gatherings in Covid-19 hotspots.
On Tuesday night, around 80 people took to the streets of Brooklyn in New York City to decry Cuomo's restrictions on nine neighborhoods where the virus was surging.
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"A mass gathering causes infections, infections cause a cluster, a cluster causes community spread," the governor said. "That is the national evolution of things unless we intervene and we stop the cycle."
Footage showed the Orthodox Jewish protesters gathering in Borough Park after Cuomo ordered school closures and a ban on large religious gatherings.
The group of mostly men could be seen setting fire to a mound of masks to the sound of cheers while firefighters were called out to extinguish the blaze.
They were encouraged by Councilman Kalman Yeger who can be heard egging them on, saying "we are not going to be deprived the right that we have in America."
"Like everybody else in America, [we have] the right to observe our religion, the right to do it freely, the right to do it without government interference," Yeger said.
"I don't care who in government thinks that they can stop us. They're wrong. Let them try."
He also released a statement saying he was "appalled" by Cuomo's "duplicitous bait-and-switch" decision to "pursue a scientifically and constitutionally questionable shutdown of our communities.".
"His administration's utter lack of coordination and communication with local officials has been an ongoing issue since the start of the pandemic and particularly recently as we face this uptick.
A Hasidic counter protester who called out members of his community for burning the masks was reportedly beaten last night, according to one Twitter user.
Yeger tweeted that he was "disgusted" by the attack and confirmed the NYPD were investigating it.
Local leaders claimed Cuomo was "targeting our community in the midst of our Jewish holidays" as the virus continues to rapidly spread through several zip codes.
In May, cops shut down Orthodox Jewish school after they discovered 70 kids inside classrooms, defying coronavirus lockdown orders.
A month earlier, Mayor Bill de Blasio apologized to the Jewish community if they felt "singled out" by arrest threats after thousands "crammed onto one block" for a rabbi's funeral.
Meanwhile, another group of about 50 people gathered outside the Good Shepherd Catholic Academy in Marine Park on Tuesday, October 6, to protest the school closures, reported the New York Post.
Yesterday, Cuomo introduced new restrictions, closing non-essentual businesses to close, banning religious gatherings of more than 10 people and and shuttering dining in nine neighborhoods.
This will take effect no later than Friday for two weeks.
Restaurants must revert to doing takeout and delivery just a week after indoor dining was permitted again.
The new bans will also be implemented in surrounding areas as a "buffer" and the severity will vary based on how close they are to neighborhoods with surging infections.
This week, Cuomo said hundreds of schools across Brooklyn and Queens would have to close again.
In orange-coded zones, remote-only learning will resume with "high-risk" non-essential enterprises like gyms shuttering again, religious institutions restricted to gatherings 25 people, and indoor dining restricted.
Yellow zones will have lighter restrictions while schools and businesses will remain open there.
Currently, 20 areas statewide are on Cuomo's hotspot list, nine of which are in Brooklyn and Queens, as well as Rockland, Broome and Orange counties.
These nine NYC zip codes are responsible for more than 20 per cent of all new infections in the city over the past four weeks.
This spread occurred even though these residents only represent seven percent of the population as the citywide positive infection rate surged to 1.9 percent.
Cuomo's announcement came just hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was ready to shut down non-essential businesses in the nine zip codes, pending state approval.
Cuomo delayed implementing de Blasio's proposal until Tuesday, citing boundaries being drawn, as the mayor pleaded for speed.
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