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During Emergency, Executive Power Limits Of Governor Should Be Curtailed

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken a necessary step in removing many of the COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings.

The restrictions largely end May 19, though 6-foot social distancing measures will still limit how many people can be inside a business at any one time. The distance-based maximum capacity will apply across commercial settings, including retail, food services, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services. It also applies in churches. Cuomo is also simplifying guidance for outdoor events.

That doesn’t mean restrictions are gone. The 6-foot social distancing limitations will prevent some business owners from being able to increase capacity simply due to the size of their buildings. State legislators must monitor that situation as time progresses.

It’s about time, however, for many of Cuomo’s restrictionss to be lifted. Cases are declining statewide. Those who want to be vaccinated are getting vaccinated. Here in Chautauqua County, more than half of the county’s residents over the age of 18 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Walk-in clinics are being scheduled regularly. Pharmacies around the county are offering the vaccine every day.

Between the warmer weather and the number of people getting vaccinated, it’s time to lessen the limits on people and businesses. We are far past the point of overwhelming hospitals and the rest of the health care system with new cases.

If there is one thing that should be quite clear, it is that state legislators need to roll back the limits of executive power given to the governor during a time of emergency. Cuomo’s guidance was often unclear, at times contradictory and often not based on science or logical reasoning. The lack of science or reason behind some orders — like the mandate to order food with alcohol, mandatory shutdown times for bars and restaurants and the draconian treatment of gyms — was especially jarring when one reads that high-ranking state Health Department officials left the office because they weren’t being listened to by the governor.

No governor should again enjoy such expansive emergency powers.

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