Guilderland, Bethlehem declare states of emergency

Crossgates Mall

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Crossgates Mall, Guilderland's large mall, emptied out Thursday just before an 8 p.m. shutdown by a state directive.

As the county announced the number of confirmed cases of COVID went up today to 52, from 41 yesterday, Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber declared a state of emergency for the town.

He wrote to residents in an email alert, “As of 4 p.m. today, the Town declared a State of Emergency with the stated goal of protecting the public safety and property, and ensuring that the Town enforces the Governor’s Executive Orders which are intended to allow the functioning of government, including alternative means of holding public meetings, to the greatest extent possible.”

On Wednesday, Barber had announced all town buildings are closed to the public. On Thursday, transportation services by the Senior Services Department was suspended. The department can be contacted at (518)280-7607.

Bethlehem Supervisor David VanLuven made a declaration of emergency Thursday, as well, saying it will remain in effect indefinitely.

Other local municipalities have declared similar states of emergency, citing Section 24 of the New York State Executive Law. They use broad language, but the law provides these examples of what it allows the head of a government to do:

a. the establishment of a curfew and the prohibition and control of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, except essential emergency vehicles and personnel;

  b. the designation of specific zones within which the occupancy and use of buildings and the ingress and egress of vehicles and persons may be prohibited or regulated;

  c. the regulation and closing of places of amusement and assembly;

  d. the suspension or limitation of the sale, dispensing, use or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, and flammable materials and liquids;

  e. the prohibition and control of the presence of persons on public streets and places;

  f. the establishment or designation of emergency shelters, emergency medical shelters, and in consultation with the state commissioner of health, community based care centers;

  g. the suspension within any part or all of its territorial limits of any of its local laws, ordinances or regulations, or parts thereof subject to federal and state constitutional, statutory and regulatory limitations, which may prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with a disaster or recovery therefrom whenever (1) a request has been made pursuant to subdivision seven of this section, or (2) whenever the governor has declared a state disaster emergency pursuant to section twenty-eight of this article. Suspension of any local law, ordinance or regulation pursuant to this paragraph shall be subject to the following standards and limits:

  (i) no suspension shall be made for a period in excess of five days, provided, however, that upon reconsideration of all the relevant facts and circumstances, a suspension may be extended for additional periods not to exceed five days each during the pendency of the state of emergency;

  (ii) no suspension shall be made which does not safeguard the health and welfare of the public and which is not reasonably necessary to the disaster effort;

  (iii) any such suspension order shall specify the local law, ordinance or regulation, or part thereof suspended and the terms and conditions of the suspension;

  (iv) the order may provide for such suspension only under particular circumstances, and may provide for the alteration or modification of the requirements of such local law, ordinance or regulation suspended, and may include other terms and conditions;

  (v) any such suspension order shall provide for the minimum deviation from the requirements of the local law, ordinance or regulation suspended consistent with the disaster action deemed necessary; and

  (vi) when practicable, specialists shall be assigned to assist with the related emergency actions to avoid adverse effects resulting from such suspension.


It also specifies limits:

  4. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to limit the power of any local government to confer upon its chief executive any additional duties or responsibilities deemed appropriate.

  5. Any person who knowingly violates any local emergency order of a chief executive promulgated pursuant to this section is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.

  6. Whenever a local state of emergency is declared by the chief executive of a local government pursuant to this section, the chief executive of the county in which such local state of emergency is declared, or where a county is wholly contained within a city, the mayor of such city, may request the governor to remove all or any number of sentenced inmates from institutions maintained by such county in accordance with section ninety-three of the correction law.

  7. Whenever a local state of emergency has been declared pursuant to this section, the chief executive of the county in which the local state of emergency has been declared, or where a county is wholly contained within a city, the chief executive of the city, may request the governor to provide assistance under this chapter, provided that such chief executive determines that the disaster is beyond the capacity of local government to meet adequately and state assistance is necessary to supplement local efforts to save lives and to protect property, public health and safety, or to avert or lessen the threat of a disaster.

  8. The legislature may terminate by concurrent resolution, such emergency orders at any time.

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