Unclear When Places of Worship Can Reopen or Gatherings Resume
Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn't give a concrete answer as to when places of worship will be allowed to reopen across New York State.
On Thursday, Cuomo confirmed the Central New York, North Country, Mohawk Valley, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions will all start the phased reopening process on Friday.
Under his plan, a region can start Phase 1 of the reopening process on May 15 if all seven metrics are hit. Phase 1 includes the reopening of construction, manufacturing, retail with curbside pickup, wholesale trade, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting.
The Mid-Hudson and Captial Region regions meet five of the seven metrics. New York City, Long Island and Western New York meet four metrics, as of this writing. Those regions must wait until they hit all of the metrics to start the phased reopening process.
Phase 2 allows retail, real estate and finance to open. Phase 3 will allow restaurants and hotels to reopen. Phase 4 includes entertainment venues and schools. Cuomo previously said each phase will last two weeks but has since said it the reopening could be accelerated.
It remains unclear which phase services held in churches, temples, mosques and other places of worship fall into. On Thursday, during his COVID-19 briefing, Cuomo stated he's not ready for places of worship to reopen.
"It's less about being a church a temple or a mosque, it's more about a gathering and that's going to be basically according to the guidance on large gatherings but look, large gatherings have been where this first started," Cuomo said.
Cuomo said it has nothing to do about religion, it's about people gather. He added if one infected person attends a gathering with a large number of people he or she could infect dozens in one afternoon.
"The last thing you want is 100, 200 people in close proximity," Cuomo said. "That's why schools are such a challenge. How do you operate a school without a gathering? That’s the issue under churches, temples, mosques. It has nothing to do with religion, it’s the gathering."