New York Governor Andrew Cuomo watches as he comments on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) at Riverside Church in New York on November 15, 2020.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday he would sign the legislature’s bill to deprive him of the emergency powers he was exercising during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Democratic governor, who grappled with waves of criticism and called for his resignation over dueling crises in his government, also vowed that he would “not be distracted” in the fight against Covid.
“I am signing the State Emergency Powers Act today and I will implement it today,” Cuomo said on a conference call with reporters.
Cuomo said he would take this step with the “major change” that will allow Empire State restaurants outside of New York City to increase indoor dining capacity from 50% to 75%.
“The numbers have gone down. If the numbers have gone down, we’ll adjust the economic reopening valve,” said Cuomo.
The change will be implemented on March 19, according to the governor. But he warned: “If the numbers change, if something happens, if there is a downturn, then obviously we will adjust.”
Cuomo is under fire amid a growing number of allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate workplace behavior, as well as an ongoing scandal over his government’s handling of care home deaths in Covid.
But Cuomo was defiant as he was peppered with questions about several women’s allegations, including two more who came forward on Saturday.
“There are some lawmakers suggesting that I step down on allegations,” Cuomo said. Some members of Cuomo’s own party, including Senator Alessandra Biaggi, have asked him to resign.
“I was elected by the people of this state, I was not elected by politicians. I will not resign on charges,” he said.
“The premise of resigning on allegations is indeed anti-democratic,” added Cuomo. He urged people to let New York Attorney General Letitia James conduct her independent investigation into harassment claims before drawing any conclusions.
“Let the attorney general do her job. She’s very good, she’s very competent. And that’s going to be a due process and then we’ll have the facts,” he said.
“There is no way I can step down,” added Cuomo. “But I won’t let that distract me either … We have a lot to do.”
When asked about Biaggi in particular, Cuomo replied: “I have a flash of news for you: There is politics in politics.”
“I have political differences with people,” said Cuomo, also with some Democrats and Biaggi. “But they don’t override the will of the people. They don’t override elections. They cannot hear an allegation and decide on the allegation,” he said.
– CNBC’s Dan Mangan contributed to this report.