Village Fears Future Coronavirus Closure Protests
Though the majority of local residents are doing their best to practice social distancing and comply with state executive orders, Suffolk County police said others have been belligerent and uncooperative in suppressing the spread of coronavirus.
Police said 6th precinct officers responded to Main Street in Port Jefferson Sunday, April 19, at around 1:30 p.m. There was a report of a large group of people not practicing social distancing.
Police said one individual refused a request to social distance or put a mask on. He was taken to the Sixth Precinct and was released with a civil summons returnable to the Village of Port Jefferson for failure to comply with the executive order.
Port Jefferson village Mayor Margot Garant said in the April 20 trustees meeting that Sunday saw large groups of people down in Port Jefferson, with many congregating on Main Street and in Harborfront Park. Many were not wearing masks. The park along the waterfront was temporarily closed after the incident when cops arrived.
“Sunday was a very difficult day in the village — it was a sunny day and people had cabin fever,” the mayor said. “Between groups of motorcycles, people showing off muscle cars … we did have to close down Harborfront.”
She said such actions by locals and visitors means they could be spreading the virus not only to others, but also to police and code enforcement, which she said should be especially respected now since they are “part of the front line.”
The fear, village officials said, was a kind of political backlash and further gatherings. In other states, there have been protests about closures of businesses and amenities. While nearly every state, both Republican and Democrat-led, now has some sort of lockdown laws in place, these protests have taken on a political edge to them, with President Donald Trump (R) in some cases explicitly supporting the rallies, despite health officials warning it may spread SARS Cov-2 even more.
Some of these protests have blocked roadways and reportedly even restricted health care workers from getting to hospitals.
“Knowing there are certain groups that are causing rallies, this will not be getting better for us,” Garant said. “This situation is not going to get better for us, this is a destination village.”
Currently, the village is working on staggered shifts, and suspects some projects slated for 2020 may be put on hold, though the Toast stairway project is moving ahead, with only sprinkler systems yet to be installed.
Otherwise the village has instituted a spending freeze, and any expenditures have to go through administration staff before they get approved.
The mayor added village tax bills are still being generated, and will be due June 1.