State officials announced new COVID-19 related rules for places of worship and graduations across New York State.

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On Saturday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced places of worship will be permitted to reopen with 25 percent occupancy with all social distancing protocols in place during Phase 2 of the four-phased reopening plan.

"The metrics and health data across the state are very positive. Taking that into account, churches, mosques and temples can reopen with 25% occupancy and with social distancing as part of Phase 2," Cuomo said.

The Capital Region, Central New York, the Finger Lakes, the Mohawk Valley, the North Country, the Southern Tier and Western New York regions are in Phase 2. The Mid-Hudson Region is expected to reach Phase 2 on Tuesday and Long Island on Wednesday.

"The reopening of the economy is a valve - we said we were going to open the valve incrementally and then watch the metrics, and our metrics today are all very good so we're going to open the valve more than we originally anticipated," Cuomo said. "We now have the lowest number of hospitalizations and deaths from coronavirus since this pandemic began - which is great news - so we are going to accelerate the opening of temples, mosques and churches and allow these places of worship to open with up to 25 percent capacity in phase two. But people still have to stay smart and follow all the necessary precautions and guidelines because if the metrics start to change, the reopening will have to be slowed down."

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On Sunday, Cuomo announced outdoor, socially distanced graduations of up to 150 people will be allowed beginning June 26, subject to any outbreaks or significant changes in the metrics.

"In terms of reopening, we have been calibrating our strategy based on the data and the facts, and overall the numbers are down, the numbers are good and our plan is working," Cuomo said Sunday. "Based on today's numbers we can continue to advance our reopening, and we will now allow outdoor graduations of up to 150 beginning June 26th. New Yorkers have worked together to bend this curve quickly, and if we continue on this trajectory, remain responsible and follow all social distancing protocols, we can keep accelerating our reopening strategy."

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