Restrictions and rebellion follow New York City’s covid-19 surge

CALL IT THE bonfire of the masks. That was the centrepiece of a large protest on October 6th by ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in Brooklyn’s Borough Park to protest against new state restrictions on mass gatherings. Some chanted “Jewish Lives Matter”. A few hoisted Trump campaign signs. “We are at war,” said Heshy Tischler, a neighbourhood populist running the city council who has been leading the agitation, the following night. He also allegedly set angry demonstrators on Jacob Kornbluh, a reporter for Jewish Insider, who was attempting to cover the protests. He was called both a “Nazi” and a “moyser”, a Yiddish word meaning informer.

This antipathy, which has of course gone viral on the internet, is mostly directed at Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor. Mr Cuomo has enforced a new lockdown plan to deal with the alarming rise in covid-19 infections in so-called micro-clusters of the city and state. Places in the “red zone” areas are home to 3% of the state’s population but account for 18% of all positive cases last week. These are mainly in Brooklyn, Queens and a few towns upstate, home to ultra-Orthodox communities, who say they are being unfairly targeted. Bill de Blasio, New York City’s mayor, calls the restrictions a “necessary rewind”. Only essential businesses can stay open in red zones. Houses of worship are...

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