Cuomo Allows New York State Residents to Gather in Small Groups
In what some say is a "shocking" move, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is allowing New Yorkers to legally gather in small groups.
On Tuesday, Cuomo said New Yorkers can attend Memorial Day ceremonies with 10 people or less. He also said the state will allow Memorial Day vehicle parades and encouraged local governments to televise Memorial Day events.
Later this week, he announced houses of worship can host ceremonies with 10 people or less.
Cuomo's executive order prohibited all non-essential gatherings of any size for any reason, except for any religious service or ceremony, or for the purposes of any Memorial Day service or commemoration.
Following those mandates, the New York Civil Liberties Union sued Cuomo saying his order infringes on Empire State resident's First Amendment Rights, for allowing certain small gatherings but not others, the New York Daily News reports.
In response, late Friday, Cuomo modified his executive order to allow for gatherings of 10 people or less "for any lawful purpose" as long as social distancing and cleaning protocols are followed.
The update still means Empire State residents must keep six feet apart from each other and wear face masks if social distancing can't be maintained.
The amended executive order reads:
Executive Order 202.10, as later extended by Executive Order 202.18, Executive Order 202.29 and as extended and amended by Executive Order 202.32, which prohibited all non-essential gatherings of any size for any reason, except for any religious service or ceremony, or for the purposes of any Memorial Day service or commemoration, which allowed ten or fewer individuals to gather, provided that social distancing protocols and cleaning and disinfection protocols required by the Department of Health are adhered to is hereby modified to permit any non-essential gathering of ten or fewer individuals, for any lawful purpose or reason, provided that social distancing protocols and cleaning and disinfection protocols required by the Department of Health are adhered to.
While it is now ok for New Yorkers to gather in small groups, Cuomo warns it is still risky.
"Is it worth the risk? Two people is a risk, five people is a risk. Ten people is a risk. Any one of those people could be infected," Cuomo said Saturday during his COVID-19 briefing.
New York City Councilman Mark D. Levine agrees with Cuomo.
"This shocking order, forced by a lawsuit, changes nothing about the risks associated with group gatherings--especially those held indoors," he tweeted Friday night. "We need the public to continue to be smart and use judgement about the risks of this virus, regardless of what the court has forced on us."