Gatherings of 25 to be allowed
The governor Monday announced the relaxed limit for regions in Phase 3, which had stood at 10
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ALBANY — New York will allow gatherings of up to 25 people in regions that have entered the third phase of the state's COVID-19 reopening process, relaxing the prior limit of 10 people.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the chance Monday, saying the state's currently low coronavirus infection rate supports the decision.
The new limit of 25 people applies to regions in Phase 3, which as of Monday included the Finger Lakes (including Rochester), Central New York, Southern Tier, North Country and Mohawk Valley.
Western New York, which includes Buffalo, will enter Phase 3 on Tuesday, while the Capital Region will follow Wednesday.
"We're going to modify Phase 3 given this new data and we're going to allow gatherings up to 25 people in Phase 3, which is up from 10 people, again because the numbers are good in most parts of the state," Cuomo said Monday at his daily coronavirus briefing, held Monday in Westchester County.
Cuomo first banned in-person, nonessential gatherings — parties, meetings, barbecues and the like — of any size in March as the state dealt with the country's worst coronavirus outbreak, which has led to more than 24,000 confirmed deaths in the state, most of which were concentrated downstate.
On May 20, Cuomo eased the restriction for places of worship, allowing them to have services with no more than 10 people present.
The next day, the New York Civil Liberties Union sued, arguing that relaxing the restriction only for religious services violated the First Amendment rights of a New York resident who was arrested for organizing a protest against COVID-19 closures.
The same day the suit was filed, Cuomo agreed to allow all gatherings of up to 10 people for any legal purpose, though he later claimed he had no knowledge of the lawsuit.
The Mid-Hudson region is expected to enter Phase 3 of the state's four-phase reopening process next week, as is Long Island.
New York City is expected to hit Phase 3 next month.
Until then, those three regions remain limited to gatherings of no more than 10 people.
Cuomo's decision Monday came a day after he spoke about the difficulties gatherings pose during the COVID-19 crisis.
Increasing the limit from 10 to 25 isn't as simple, he said. But he suggested you have to consider the full scope of the decision first and consider the tens of thousands of gatherings held across the state.
"You can say it’s only 10 to 25," he said Sunday. "Yeah, it’s 10 to 25 times 50,000. Right? Because that would go all across the board. That’s a lot of people and those mass gatherings that’s the vital area of vulnerability."