New York mayor tells police to arrest mourners at funerals and anyone gathering in large groups

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'What I saw will not be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus'

World | The Independent

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has instructed police officers to arrest mourners at large funerals, in order to stop large crowds gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday night, the mayor posted three tweets condemning mourners who gathered on the streets of the city to pay their respects for the late Rabbi Chaim Mertz, according to the New York Post.

The mourners were criticised by Mr de Blasio, who said that large gatherings will not be tolerated in the city.

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“Something absolutely unacceptable happened in Williamsburg tonite: a large funeral gathering in the middle of this pandemic,” he said

“When I heard, I went there myself to ensure the crowd was dispersed. And what I saw WILL NOT be tolerated so long as we are fighting the Coronavirus,” the mayor added.

Mr de Blasio’s second tweet attracted criticism, after he singled out the Jewish community for not practising social distancing and said that he would instruct police officers to arrest those gathering in large groups.

“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period,” he tweeted.

Twitter users were quick to criticise the mayor’s comments and Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, replied to his post: “Hey @NYCMayor, there are 1mil+ Jewish people in #NYC. The few who don’t social distance should be called out — but generalizing against the whole population is outrageous especially when so many are scapegoating Jews.

“This erodes the very unity our city needs now more than ever.”

Chaim Deutsch, a city council member added: “This has to be a joke. Did the Mayor of NYC really just single out one specific ethnic community (a community that has been the target of increasing hate crimes in HIS city) as being noncompliant??”

Mr de Blasio finished his thread about the incident by writing that he would be instructing police officers in the city to have zero tolerance for people mourning in large groups.

“We have lost so many these last two months + I understand the instinct to gather to mourn. But large gatherings will only lead to more deaths + more families in mourning,” the mayor said.

“We will not allow this. I have instructed the NYPD to have one standard for this whole city: zero tolerance.”

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Last week, the mayor urged people in the city to report anyone not practising social distancing.

“When you see a crowd, when you see a line that’s not distanced, when you see a supermarket that’s too crowded — anything, you can report it right away, so we can get help there to fix the problem,” he said.

Google’s dedicated coronavirus page shows that New York City has upwards of 162,000 confirmed cases and at least 12,509​ deaths.

According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, nationally there are now upwards of on million people who have tested positive for coronavirus. The death toll has reached at least 58,355.

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