CNA Staff, Oct 12, 2020 / 12:01 pm
Two federal judges on Friday declined to block new restrictions on public worship in New York City, which both Catholic and Jewish leaders in the city had challenged in court.
The restrictions by Gov. Andrew Cuomo cap indoor religious services in Brooklyn and Queens at 10 people in the areas deemed most seriously affected by the coronavirus, and at 25 people depending on the density of virus cases or their proximity to a cluster. Gatherings in violation of the order could result in sponsors being fined $15,000.
The Diocese of Brooklyn sued Oct. 8 against Cuomo's restrictions, which it said violated the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment. A group of Jewish rabbis and synagogues had also sued, seeking to delay the new restrictions' enforcement until after last weekend's Sukkot celebrations.
The diocese alleged that Cuomo's new health restrictions "arbitrarily reduce capacity" at churches which worked with public health officials earlier in the summer to reopen safely after the initial wave of the virus.