Advertisement

New York bans gatherings, non-essential work in coronavirus lockdown

Coronavirus outbreak: New York’s iconic Times Square nearly deserted over COVID-19 fears
WATCH: New York's iconic Times Square nearly deserted over COVID-19 fears

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday he is ordering all workers in nonessential businesses to stay home and banning gatherings statewide as cases of COVID-19 grow.

The Democratic governor took the dramatic actions as confirmed cases in New York climbed to more than 7,000. Cuomo reported that the state’s number of fatalities had increased to 35. Johns Hopkins University, which has been tallying deaths globally, put the state’s fatality count at 38.

Story continues below advertisement
Coronavirus outbreak: Number of deaths in the U.S. tops 100
Coronavirus outbreak: Number of deaths in the U.S. tops 100

“We’re going to close the valve, because the rate of increase in the number of cases portends a total overwhelming of our hospital system,” Cuomo said at a news conference.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Nonessential gatherings of individuals of any size or for any reason are cancelled or postponed. Cuomo also mandated that all people should stay at least 6 feet away from other people when they are out in public.

READ MORE: American coronavirus cases are where Italy was 2 weeks ago: U.S. surgeon general

And only essential businesses can have workers commuting to the job or on the job, Cuomo said.

The rules will take effect Sunday evening.

Coronavirus around the world: March 20, 2020
Coronavirus around the world: March 20, 2020

The executive order he will sign Friday tightens previous work-from-home exemptions that exempted businesses providing certain services, including media, warehouses, grocery and food production facilities, pharmacies, health care providers, utilities and banks.

Coronavirus outbreak: Trump administration to send hospital ships to New York, West Coast
Coronavirus outbreak: Trump administration to send hospital ships to New York, West Coast

Cuomo said people can still go out for solitary exercise to protect their physical and mental health.

“You can’t say to someone, You must be locked in your apartment 24 hours a day for the foreseeable future.’ Look what you’re saying to people. This could be going on for months,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement