BOROUGH PARK, Brooklyn — They’re called red zones — designated areas where many daily activities have to be curtailed for 14 days, due to high levels of COVID-19 infection.
The designations were made by the New York State Health Department and Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the neighborhoods in New York City and in Orange and Rockland Counties where the average coronavirus infection is 6.26 %t, according to the health department.
To prevent viral spread, the rate of infection should be near 1%, the department said.
Despite the high rates of infection, there was no shortage of people on Wednesday in the red zones who were critical of the new policies.
That criticism extended to the governor and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who are overseeing enforcement of safety guidelines.
“De Blasio is moron number one,” said a resident of the red zone in Borough Park, Brooklyn, who’d only share his first name, Robert. “And the other one,” he continued, referring to Cuomo, “is moron number two.”
Robert said he’s concerned about the restrictions that the red zone designations will impose, especially on businesses.
In these areas, mass gatherings will be banned; churches, synagogues, mosques and all houses of worship can have no more than 10 people at a time; restaurants will be take-out only; and non-essential businesses will be closed, starting Thursday.
The zones in New York City are in western Brooklyn, Central Queens, and in Far Rockaway, Queens. There are also red zones in Kiryas Joel, in Orange County, and in New Square, in Rockland County.
Jack Togati owns a bakery on 18th Avenue in Borough Park that’s right across the street from P.S. 48. That school, like more than 100 public and private schools in the red zones, has to shut down for two weeks. He said that he counts on parents, after they drop their children off at school, to patronize his shop.
“Now that they don’t have to come across the street to buy the bread,” Togati said, “things get tougher. A lot tougher.”
However, another neighbor, Maria Locascio, pointed out that the red zone order is temporary.
“If we all wore a mask, and stayed six feet apart,” she told PIX11 News, “it wouldn’t be such a red zone any more.”
The mayor and governor agreed with that assessment in their public statements on Wednesday. They said that it’s not just a two-week crackdown. Instead, they said, it’s meant to be two weeks of improvement.
“We’re going to do an outreach, education effort full force,” Mayor de Blasio said at a morning news conference. “We’ll immediately have 1,200 people on the ground today.”
Gov. Cuomo acknowledged that some residents are sour on being in red zones.
“Some people are unhappy,” he said, in a midday teleconference. “I understand it. [But] these limitations are better than going back to closedown.”
Also on Wednesday, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force was in the New York City metro area. Dr. Deborah Birx was on Long Island, the latest leg of her five-month coronavirus education tour. At a press briefing, she said that precautions have to be taken, and that they work.
“I can’t tell you how many tens of hotels and dining rooms and takeout we have been through,” Dr. Birx said, “but if you wear your mask and distancing and disinfect your hands, you can be out and about.”