Last Updated on July 14, 2022
New York State’s COVID-19 measures that required people infected with or exposed to highly contagious communicable diseases to quarantine are a violation of state law, a judge ruled. The New York Isolation and Quarantine procedures, known as Rule 2.13, were enacted in February.
“Whenever appropriate to control the spread of a highly contagious communicable disease, the State Commissioner of Health may issue and/or may direct the local health authority to issue isolation and/or quarantine orders, consistent with due process of law, to all such persons as the State Commissioner of Health shall determine appropriate,” read the stringent measures.
Isolations could include home confinement, or in residential or temporary housing, based on what the public health authority deemed “appropriate.”
For more serious illnesses that require hospitalization, infected individuals were required to spend the quarantine period in a New York hospital. “Symptoms or conditions indicate that medical care in a general hospital is expected to be required, the isolation location shall be a general hospital,” read the now scrapped requirements.
Three Republican lawmakers, including State Senator George Borrello, Assemblyman Chris Tague, and Assemblyman Michael Lawler, along with Uniting NYS, filed a lawsuit aimed at removing the quarantine guidelines. New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D), Commissioner of Health Mary Bassett, the state’s health department, and the Public Health and Health Planning Council, were all named in the suit, according to The Epoch Times.
Plaintiffs argued that the Isolation and Quarantine procedures were in violation of the New York State Constitution and a violation of the separation of powers.
“It’s unconstitutional in our eyes, and anything like that should go through the legislature,” Tague told reporters. “It should have an opportunity to be debated. To be able to have facts brought forth by health professionals, and leaders within our communities before we just decide to put something into law.”
Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of Cattaraugus County, Ronald D. Ploetz, ultimately sided with the plaintiffs in a July 8 ruling.
“Involuntary detention is a severe deprivation of individual liberty, far more egregious than other health safety measures, such as requiring mask wearing at certain venues. Involuntary quarantine may have far-reaching consequences such as loss of income (or employment) and isolation from family,” Ploetz wrote.
The judge stressed that in addition to the unconstitutional nature of the guidelines, there is also no scientific basis for them.
“Respondents offered no scientific data or expert testimony why Rule 2.13 was a necessary response to combat COVID-19, but instead contend only that it would provide a quick and nimble approach to combating the pandemic,” wrote Ploetz. “Nevertheless, during oral argument of this matter, at a time when we hope that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, counsel for the Respondents were unable to cite any instance where the procedure set forth in Rule 2.13 was actually utilized.”
Governor Hochul was vowed to appeal the ruling. “We feel very confident that if we appeal this, we will be successful,” Hochul told reporters on Tuesday.
The ruling comes as a number of municipalities — including Los Angeles County — are considering the reintroduction of mask and vaccine mandates.