ALBANY – New York is banning all nonessential travel, mandating everyone not critical to their workplace to stay at home and requiring all businesses to shutter if they do not fit specific criteria.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the sweeping ramp-up of restrictions on movement in New York on Friday as the novel coronavirus spread through the state, with New York having the highest number of confirmed cases in the nation.
He called it “New York State on Pause,” and it takes effect Sunday evening. Mass transit will stay operational; food delivery services will stay open.
“This is the most drastic action we can take,” Cuomo said at a briefing at the state Capitol.
The decision came as the number of confirmed cases soared to 7,100 in New York, up 2,950 in the past day.
The executive order Cuomo plans to sign will mandate 100% of the workforce must stay home, excluding essential services. The order excludes pharmacies and grocery stores and other similar businesses.
On Thursday, Cuomo had limited workers in the office to 75%.
The state is also ordering people to stay off the streets as much as possible, and ordering the nonessential business to shutter. There could be civil fines and mandatory closure if people do not comply.
He also put a moratorium on any evictions from apartments or homes for 90 days and eliminated fines and penalties for businesses on late sales-tax payments this month.
“For some restaurants, this little bit of breathing room could mean the difference between paying employees and shutting their doors forever,” Melissa Fleischut, president of the state Restaurant Association, said of the sales-tax reprieve.
Cuomo’s actions installed a series of stronger orders on vulnerable populations, such as requiring any visitors to have a self-check and have their temperature taken.
Everyone, Cuomo said, should simply stay indoors as much as possible and only go on “solitary exercise” outside.
“We need real diligence with the most vulnerable population,” Cuomo said, “This is not life as usual.”
But Cuomo rejected the suggestion that the order is essentially a “shelter in place” mandate, saying the situation shouldn’t be equated to a bomb threat.
Instead, he said, people need to avoid contact with others as much as possible, such as staying six feet away from others known as “social distancing” and to not visit households with multiple people.
The increase in confirmed cases came as New York’s testing continued to increase.
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