/Cuomo escalates safety mandates, orders all non-essential New Yorkers to stay home

Cuomo escalates safety mandates, orders all non-essential New Yorkers to stay home



New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo | Governor's Office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a briefing on the coronavirus | Governor’s Office

ALBANY — All “non-essential” New Yorkers are being ordered to stay home starting Sunday evening as the state looks to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

The governor announced Friday he will issue the “New York State on PAUSE” executive order mandating that all residents remain home and indoors “to the greatest extent to protect physical and mental health.” The action will require 100 percent of the state’s “non-essential” workforce to work from home — up from the 75 percent ordered to remain home earlier this week — the latest escalation in the state’s rapidly moving efforts to stem the spread of the virus.

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Grocery stores, food delivery, pharmacies, gas stations, laundromats and some other businesses will be exempted from the action. The governor’s office said it would release an updated list of “essential” workers and services later Friday.

The forthcoming executive order will also mandate that those in the “vulnerable population,” including the elderly, immune-compromised and those with underlying illnesses, stay indoors except for solitary exercise, pre-screen all visitors and aides by taking their temperatures, and not visit households with multiple people, Cuomo said.

All New Yorkers, meanwhile, must avoid non-essential gatherings and practice social distancing of at least six feet when in public.

The state will enforce the order through monitoring, civil fines and mandatory closures for businesses found not in compliance. Individuals will likely not face penalties, Cuomo said.

“I am not kidding about this,” he said at a morning news conference. “The numbers are going up at such a rate that it’s more than doubled the capacity of the hospital system. … We can’t get more ventilators.”

There were more than 7,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York as of Friday morning, 1,255 of which required hospitalizations, according to the governor. His office said there have been 35 fatalities.

Cuomo insisted the move was not a “shelter-in-place order.”

“Words matter because people are scared and people panic,” he said. “‘Shelter in place’ is used currently for an active shooter or a school shooting. … Why am I increasing the mandates? Because the numbers are increasing, and I said from day one, this is science and math: Watch the numbers, watch the trajectory you have the density control valve. The number starts to go up, tighten the valve. If the number doesn’t slow down, tighten the valve more. If the number doesn’t slow down, close the valve.”

Cuomo’s administration issued guidance late Thursday as to what businesses will be considered essential, although that may be updated. It includes food services including groceries and restaurants for takeout only, manufacturing and supply operations; pharmacies and drug making; health care; power plants and utilities; services such as laundromats and child care; banks; homeless shelters and food banks.

Cuomo said that mass transit including New York City subways would remain operational. He said there are no plans to move to a weekend schedule currently.

Cuomo has sought to coordinate his restrictions regionally with Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut. All four states announced the pending closure of hair and nail salons, tattoo parlors and other personal services earlier Friday morning.

The governor said Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey were considering mandating all “non-essential” residents to remain home.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf also announced a lockdown of all except “life-sustaining businesses” starting at midnight Saturday. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has suggested an escalation of restrictions would be coming soon and is scheduled to make an announcement Friday afternoon.

Cuomo is also halting residential and commercial evictions for 90 days. He announced that businesses who miss the deadline Friday to file sales tax will not be charged for interest or face any penalties. Lawmakers and business groups had pushed for a delay of the tax deadline as relief for businesses facing an unprecedented economic impact.

Bill Mahoney contributed to this report.

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