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North Shore plans for a 10-person limit on Thanksgiving

Feelings are mixed on gathering restrictions

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Responding to a resurgence of Covid-19 cases across the country and an increase in the infection rate of New Yorkers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has mandated that gyms and any establishment with liquor licenses, including bars and restaurants, close at 10 p.m., and home gatherings be limited to 10 or fewer people.

With Thanksgiving coming next week, North Shore residents have mixed feelings about the new restrictions.

New Sea Cliff resident Cindy Ash said she is known in her family as being the big Thanksgiving provider. She hosted roughly two dozen family members and friends in her Syosset home in 2018, she said, and planned an equally large celebration in her new house next Thursday. But Ash and her family decided not to bring everyone together this year, she said, even before Cuomo set the 10-person limit.

Ash, a jewelry designer, said that she and her significant other, Peter Primont, purchased their Sea Cliff home in March 2019 and have been renovating it to make it the hub of future family activities. She said she was disappointed about Thanksgiving, which was supposed to be their “welcome to the new house” celebration. Having to tell family members that they can’t come is an uncomfortable thing to do, she said.

“We can’t even be together on the holiday where we’re supposed to be grateful for the people in our lives,” Ash said. “Thanksgiving is the one holiday where you have to reflect on the non-material things that you’re thankful for, and that would be your family.”

Nonetheless, she said she understands the restriction, and believes forgoing the normal Thanksgiving festivities will be worth it if it keeps her loved ones safe. Even though everybody in Ash’s immediate family has been in a bubble, including her 80-year-old mother, who lives alone in Manhattan, she said the risk isn’t worth the reward. The feeling is magnified, she said, by the fact that a friend’s otherwise-healthy 52-year-old husband died of Covid-19 in May.

Ash said she planned to host a Thanksgiving for eight, and would likely have Zoom conferences with those who could not come. She also said that a smaller crowd would not prevent her from making her signature four-pie spread.

Deborah Orgel-Gordon, of Glen Head, also said she believed Cuomo did the right thing by limiting gatherings. “I think because of the way things are going, and an incline again on Long Island,” Orgel-Gordon said, “I think it’s a good thing to do to keep us safe and keep our numbers down so the hospitals don’t get overwhelmed again and deaths don’t increase.”

Orgel-Gordon, a member of the Gold Coast Business Association and the founder of the North Shore Biz Network, planned to spend Thanksgiving with her mother and father, who are 86 and 90, respectively, in their Coram home. Her father is in hospice care, she said, and since she is their primary caretaker, she is the only one who can safely be around them.

Sea Cliff resident Elaine Neice sees things differently. Cuomo’s restriction is an example of government over-reach, she said. And the 10-person limit is “absurd,” because she knows of others who have 15 to 20 people in their immediate family.

Neice, an administrative assistant for a local small business and a nonprofit, has a family of five, but spent last Thanksgiving at her cousin’s home with 26 other people. Although her parents are no longer alive, she said she knew her mother would have been heartbroken not to be able to see her grandchildren on the holiday. And if grandparents are comfortable with seeing their families on Thanksgiving, Neice said, it should be their right to do so.

Her father died several years ago, two months after Christmas. Neice had spent the holiday with her then boyfriend’s family, and she said she now deeply regrets not being with her father on what turned out to be his last Christmas. He was only 58 when he died, she said, which shows that people never know what the next day will hold.

“People are meant to live and love and be with each other,” Neice said. “I feel strongly about that.”

She also expressed doubts about how Cuomo’s regulations would be policed. She was worried, she said, that it would turn into neighbors telling on neighbors, which could cause serious problems not only for people who exceeded the limit, but also for the community as a whole.

She understands both sides of the argument, Neice said, and suggested a compromise. There could be fewer people inside during dinner, but the whole family could gather for dessert outside around a fire pit. This, she said, would help people stay safe while still being together for the holiday.