Public Advocate Williams slams Cuomo for rushing full reopening of NYC

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New York Public Advocate Jumaane Williams speaks on the right to vote for those in jail April 15th.
Photo by Dean Moses

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams weighed in on the latest tug-of-war between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio — this time over when New York City fully reopens.

Since the COVID-19 virus first reached New York and initiated a lockdown that is only now beginning to ease, the governor and mayor have butted heads frequently throughout the ravages of the deadly virus regarding polices and decision making. 

On April 29, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all restrictions currently hanging over the Big Apple will be ready to be lifted on July 1 following over 923,953 COVID-19 cases and 32,461 virus-related deaths as of Wednesday last week.  

“We are ready for stores to open, for businesses to open, offices, theaters, full strength,” the Mayor said during a media briefing last Thursday.

But on Monday, May 3, Cuomo undercut de Blasio’s announcement and city-wide authority by making a declaration of his own. During Cuomo’s own press briefing, he indicated that the state will be ready to fully reopen as soon as May 19 as part of a regional reopening plan. This means any limitations on businesses, including gyms and entertainment hubs such as cinemas will be removed, with Cuomo saying open means open.

 “It’s fully open, subject to six feet,” he said.

But Cuomo’s decision has left some, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, angry and perplexed. Williams said in a statement that he’s frustrated by the lack of transparency and back-and-forth between the pair after a year that has claimed thousands of lives.                   

“Well over a year into the pandemic, our leaders have still not learned key lessons on clarity of message and caution in health measures. The Governor’s May 19 reopening announcement undercuts the Mayor’s July 1 goal announced just a few days ago, and seems designed to do so. The Governor’s back-and-forth bigfooting leaves New Yorkers struggling to keep up and businesses struggling to comply, and has already cost lives in the past,” Williams said.

Cuomo has garnered the label of showboating his power over others, and Williams sees this latest lift in restrictions debacle as another ego trip. Rather than displaying joint leadership to steer New York into a functioning city and state, Williams believes that Cuomo has once again has let his cavalier attitude take center stage and is concerned that May 19 might be too early to reopen fully and safely.

“Enacting complicated new ordinances on short notice, without clear health data presented as justification, undermines confidence that these decisions are being guided by public health and not politics. When the science indicates safety – such as finally restarting 24/7 subway service – these reopenings can be celebrated. But when it does not – such as bringing city workers back in-person or lifting most capacity restrictions in just over two weeks – those decisions should be scrutinized and leadership questioned,” Williams said. 

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