Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday ordered nonessential businesses to keep 100% of their workforce at home, and he put in place stringent new restrictions on New Yorkers starting Sunday as the state grapples with the worst coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
“When I talk about the most drastic action we can take, this is the most drastic action we can take,” Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany. Cases across the state surged by 2,950 overnight to 7,102, he said. “This is not life as usual. Accept it. Realize it and deal with it.”
Cuomo acknowledged that the restrictions will force businesses to close and people to lose their jobs, adding that he’s suspending evictions across the state for 90 days.
“We’re all in quarantine now. We’re all in various levels of quarantine and it’s hard,” he said.
Food delivery qualifies as an essential service, he said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has been pushing Cuomo to issue a shelter-in-place order for New York City, where cases skyrocketed by more than 1,000 in a matter of hours on Thursday. More than half of the state’s cases are concentrated within the five boroughs.
Cuomo didn’t call the new restrictions a “shelter-in-place” order, although many of them mirror what’s in place elsewhere in the country where officials have put such an order in place.
“It is not a shelter-in-place order,” Cuomo said, adding that he doesn’t want to scare residents. “Shelter in place is used currently for an active shooter or a school shooter.”
When in public, individuals must practice social distancing of at least 6 feet, he said. Businesses that provide essential services, like grocery stores, pharmacies and banks, must implement rules that ensure employees and customers maintain at least 6 feet of space between each other, according to a slide presented at the press conference. Individuals should also limit use of public transit only if it’s absolutely necessary. Individuals will also need to limit outdoor activities, avoiding ones where they come into close contact with other people.