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De Blasio warns a shelter-in-place order could be coming. Cuomo says ‘not so fast’

March 17, 2020 Alex Williamson
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At a press briefing Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio told New Yorkers to prepare to “shelter in place” due to the growing number of cases of the novel coronavirus in New York City.

The mayor said the decision about whether or not to impose an order barring New York City residents from leaving their homes except under specific circumstances would be made in the next two days.

As of 2:30 p.m. on March 17, there were 814 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the city, 157 in Brooklyn.

“I think it’s gotten to a place where the decision has to be made very soon,” de Blasio said.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference Tuesday morning when asked about a possible shelter-in-place order that he is “not resistant” to the possibility, but that the decision would be made on a statewide basis, and that he would not allow municipal leaders across New York to quarantine cities independently.

“Whatever we do we will do statewide. Ideally whatever we do we will do regionally with the other states,” Cuomo said, and went on to reference yesterday’s shuttering of onsite service at restaurants and bars, a measure that he undertook simultaneously with the governors of Connecticut and New Jersey to prevent “state shopping,” or people crossing state lines to pack into restaurants or night clubs.

A similar order went into effect last night in California’s Bay Area, where residents of seven counties, home to a population of approximately 7 million, were told to remain indoors unless absolutely necessary.

Residents of the affected Northern Californian counties aren’t supposed to go to work unless their job is deemed essential — like health care workers — and they’re only supposed to leave their homes for tasks like picking up groceries and prescriptions, or seeking medical help.

Travel is not allowed, except for an essential reason.

It’s not yet clear if a shelter-in-place order in New York City would have the same restrictions as California’s mandate, or what fines could be imposed for violating such an order.

In response to de Blasio’s statement, Gov. Cuomo reiterated that putting such an order in place is not up to the mayor.

“No city in the state can quarantine itself without state approval,” Cuomo said. “I have no plan whatsoever to quarantine any city.”

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