Sheriffs say enforcement of COVID-19 gathering rules won’t include ‘checking’ on private residences over holiday

Last week Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state would be limiting gatherings at private residences to fewer than 10 people.

Many questioned how enforcement would occur at these events. The Governor had previously said that it’s up to localities to enforce the array of health orders the state has imposed to date.

However, sheriffs from around the Finger Lakes region said they were bound by legal guidelines, too.

“We are also regulated by the legal guidelines of our response to complaints as to whether or not we have license and privilege to enter private residences, based upon warrant, consent or exigent circumstances,” Steuben County Sheriff Jim Allard said. His office has helped, and will continue to assist the County Health Department with various response efforts.




But it will not mean deputies checking the number of individuals at gatherings.

“The men and women of the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office will not be peeking in your window or attempting to enter your property to count the number of persons at your table on Thanksgiving,” he continued. “We encourage all citizens of Steuben County to abide by the COVID-19 response protocols as established by the governor to gatherings at private residences,” he added. “Keeping social circles as small as possible, especially during the holidays, will allow us to better weather the storm.”

Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson is encouraging everyone to follow the guidelines issued by the state, and to wear a mask – despite how difficult it may be.

Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts agreed that everyone should abide by health guidelines, but that anything more than that from his office would be outside the scope of law enforcement activity.

“This is a health pandemic that should be enforced by health officials,” he said. “For this office to engage family gatherings on private property without probable cause of a criminal matter is outside the scope and functions of this office and law enforcement as a whole.”


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