Using our smarts with the limits
Should people take part in large gatherings without taking proper COVID-19 precautions?
No, not unless some measure of social distancing takes place.
Should Gov. Andrew Cuomo have the power to dictate local police departments, code officers or health department workers go into homes to break up those gatherings without observing basic due process rights?
No. But it appears the governor is telling local governments to do with an edict limiting gatherings in people’s homes to 10 people or less. The governor says he has contact tracing results that show gatherings in homes are one of three central reasons COVID-19 is spreading throughout the state. The U.S. Constitution, however, does not appear to give him the right make the matter one of law.
Governors can and should issue guidelines and recommendations, and if contact tracing results do indeed show in-home Halloween parties spread COVID-19, it would appear guidance around small gatherings is warranted. But guidance is where the government’s role should end when it comes to the privacy of one’s home. It’s one thing to issue an edict from Albany. It’s quite another to task local governments with enforcing a measure that come dangerously close to the line of unconstitutional infringement on the right of privacy in a home.
While it is unassailable that health emergencies allow some infringement on rights, in our view Cuomo is on a slippery slope when it comes to enforcing the gathering limit.