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20 Mar, 2020 15:43

‘NY on pause’: Governor bans gatherings of any size & orders ‘non-essential’ workers to stay home

‘NY on pause’: Governor bans gatherings of any size & orders ‘non-essential’ workers to stay home

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has banned gatherings of any size and ordered workers in “non-essential” businesses to stay home or face a fine and mandatory closure, as the state ramped up efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Only employees of “essential businesses” – grocery stores, pharmacies, utilities, public transit, and other critical services – are permitted to commute and work outside the home under strict new rules, Cuomo announced, in an executive order on Friday.

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Violators will be hit with a fine and face mandatory closure of their business, the governor told reporters.

These provisions will be enforced.

New York state has 7,102 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 4,408 in New York City, as of Friday. Almost 40 people have died.

All non-essential gatherings have also been banned, and social distancing of six feet will be mandated, he continued, though it’s unclear how the latter is to be enforced. Outdoor recreation is permitted only if it involves no contact.

Cuomo urged healthy New Yorkers to limit their use of public transit, and told people over 70 and “vulnerable populations” to avoid it entirely. The elderly and infirm were ordered to stay indoors, only going outside for “solitary exercise” — no visiting other households allowed. The young and healthy were forbidden from interacting with “vulnerable populations.”

The governor referred to the state of suspended animation as “New York state on pause,” adding “We need everyone to be safe, otherwise no one can be safe.”

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New York is expected to run out of medical supplies in three weeks at most, Cuomo said, putting out an official call for ventilators to be sold or loaned to the state and drafting medical students and retired professionals to join the fight against the epidemic.

“The ventilators are to this war what missiles were to World War II.”

The US has 14,250 diagnosed cases of coronavirus as of Friday, and the disease has killed 205 people.