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Non-essential businesses to be shut down in COVID hot spots: Cuomo

October 6, 2020 Noah Singer
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday confirmed restrictions that will shut down all non-essential businesses in areas of the city that have been experiencing surges in virus case rates. Cuomo blamed a lack of enforcement in part for the increased rates, urging stricter action by local officials in preventing mass gatherings.

The new restrictions are based on a part of a proposal laid out by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday, from which Cuomo originally only approved the closures of schools in nine ZIP codes.

De Blasio’s non-essential business shutdown plan, like his school shuttering plan, was defined geographically by ZIP code. Cuomo has done away with this system, instead focusing on areas defined by the home addresses of people who have tested positive, and referring to such areas of high transmission as “clusters.”

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“We have what I call a COVID cluster problem,” Cuomo said. “When you see the cluster, you have to stop it at that point.”

Gatherings in houses of worship in the cluster sites will be limited to 25 percent of capacity, or 10 people total, the governor said. Only essential businesses may remain open, and dining will be restricted to takeout only, he added. Schools will remain closed.

Cuomo said the city would be consulting with local governments starting Tuesday about defining the geographical zones, and that the restrictions could go into effect as soon as Wednesday, but no later than Friday. That, he said, was up to the local officials.

Cuomo also scolded local governments, saying they haven’t enforced previous laws strictly enough.

“A lack of enforcement has contributed to this problem,” he said. “There is no one who can say they didn’t see this coming.”

He also honed in on mass gatherings, particularly in houses of worship. Some members of Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish communities said they have felt unfairly singled out for criticism as case rates rise.

“This is about mass gatherings,” Cuomo said. “And one of the prime places of mass gatherings are houses of worship. I understand it’s a sensitive topic. But that is the truth. Period. If you want to solve the problem, acknowledge the problem.”

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