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Cuomo Orders New Restrictions On Restaurants, Gyms, And Gatherings

Indoor dining at El Loco, where tables are socially distanced.
Karen DeWitt

Governor Andrew Cuomo is imposing new restrictions on bars and restaurants, and limiting the number of people at a home gathering to 10 or fewer, effective Friday. The governor says it’s due to climbing rates of COVID-19 in New York, as the nation breaks another record for the number of cases.

2.9% of New Yorkers tested for the coronavirus were positive for the disease on Tuesday, a rate that is nearly three times what it was for most of the summer and much of the fall. 1,628 are in the hospital and 21 died of the virus on Tuesday.

Cuomo says he’s taking steps to limit the virus in three key areas. Effective Friday, November 13, restaurants and bars must shut down by 10 p.m. He says social dining, whether indoors or outdoors, is one of three “main spreaders of COVID” and he urges local authorities to enforce the new rules.

“A bar, restaurant should be closed at 10 o’clock,” Cuomo said. “If the lights are on, and people are drinking, they get a summons.”

Restaurants will still be allowed to serve meals indoors at the current rate of limited capacity, 50% for much of the state and 25% capacity in New York City. After 10 p.m., food only curbside pick-up will be permitted.

Gyms will also be required to shut down at 10 p.m. starting Friday.

And-- for the first time, the governor is imposing restrictions on gatherings inside of people’s homes. Starting on Friday, there can be no more than 10 people gathered inside a home, unless they are family members who already live there. The order comes just before the start of the holiday season that begins with Thanksgiving on November 26. Cuomo says small gatherings have become one of the main COVID spreader events.

“It’s psychological,” Cuomo said. “You know these people, ‘they wouldn’t hurt me, they’re my friends.’”

But the governor says that doesn’t mean they have not been exposed to the virus and are infectious.

“They can be infected,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo says neighboring states, including New Jersey and Connecticut, have already imposed similar limits.

Cuomo also announced new virus hotspots. Portions of Staten Island will be designated a yellow zone as the virus rate climbs. Cuomo says there is frequent travel between Staten Island and New Jersey, where the rate of the disease is around 7%. Port Chester, in Westchester County near the Connecticut border, has been changed from a yellow zone to an orange zone, and greater restrictions on economic activity will be imposed. Port Chester is on the border of Connecticut, where the rate of the virus is also nearing 7%.

There are new restrictions in areas near the Pennsylvania border, where the virus rate is at 15.7%.  Waverly, in Tioga County in the Southern Tier, is now designated a yellow zone. But Steuben County is no longer in a micro cluster hot spot, as the rate of illness there has declined.

The governor says despite the new restrictions, the end of the pandemic is “within sight,” after promising news Monday about a vaccine. He says it’s too early to let down our guard.

“Just finish the race. We’ve had a terrible 8 months,” Cuomo said. “We’re in this last small lap, let’s just do what we have to do to get through it.”

The governor says he knows the continued economic loss for bars, restaurants and other businesses is a hardship, but he says it’s better to lose some money than to lose a loved one.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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