New York to impose new closures in coronavirus hotspots

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ALBANY, NY (AP) – New York State will reinstate restrictions on businesses, places of worship and schools in and near areas where coronavirus cases are on the rise, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday, saying that the severity of the closures would vary depending on the proximity of the heat. stains.

Scheduled to take effect no later than Friday, the new rules will affect parts of Brooklyn and Queens in New York, sections of Orange and Rockland counties in the Hudson Valley, and an area of ​​Binghamton in the game. South.

The planned restrictions include school and business closures in some areas; others will see limits on gatherings and dining out.

But an Orthodox Jewish organization called the action “appalling for all people of religion and good faith” and threatened to explore all options to reverse it.

The plan marks a major step backwards after a cautious reopening this spring and summer in New York City, one of the first pandemic hotspots in the United States and the deadliest. As the daily toll dropped dramatically after a surge in March and early April, more than 33,000 New Yorkers in total have died from COVID-19, more than in any other state, according to figures collected by Johns University Hopkins.

“It’s about protecting people and saving lives,” Cuomo, a Democrat, said at a press conference in Albany.

In the heart of hotspots – color coded as red zones – schools will close in-person learning, only essential businesses could stay open, places of worship could not summon more than 10 people at a time, and restaurants could not could offer take-out. .

Those areas are surrounded by “orange” or “yellow” areas, according to maps released by the state later on Friday.

In the orange zones, schools will also be reserved remotely, and non-essential businesses considered high-risk – such as gyms and personal care businesses – will be closed. Religious institutions should be limited to 25 people and restaurants may offer limited outdoor dining, with a maximum of four guests per table.

In the yellow zones, businesses and schools can remain open, with mandatory weekly tests on an yet to be determined percentage of students and teachers. Religious institutions can operate halfway, and restaurants can accommodate up to four groups indoors and outdoors.

Rockland County Director Ed Day, a Republican, said he supports the governor’s plan and will do what he can to help implement it, calling the restrictions “measured and clearly targeted.”

He urged residents to take up their “civic duty to do what is right, not only for ourselves but for our entire community.”

In Broome County, where part of the west side of Binghamton will be subject to ‘yellow’ zone rules, County Director Jason Garnar said the restrictions could benefit an area that has grown from about 60 active cases there are 10 days at 458 Tuesday.

“Much of what we’ve seen is spilling out into restaurants and bars,” Garnar, a Democrat, said. He added, “As fast as we got there, we can get by.”

Implementation in New York is expected to begin Thursday, according to a tweet from Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio.

A message requesting comment has been left with Orange County officials.

After a harrowing spring, New York City posted a stable and relatively low rate of transmission over the summer. But clusters have sprouted recently, with infections on the rise.

In New York City, around 11,600 people have tested positive since September 1, up from less than 7,400 in August. In early April, 5,000 to 6,000 or more people tested positive every day.

The city has averaged about four deaths from COVID-19 per day since September 1, up from nearly 550 per day in April.

The new restrictions came a day after Cuomo ordered the closure of schools in nine Brooklyn and Queens zip codes that accounted for more than 25% of all new infections in the city over the past two weeks while failing to representing only 7% of the population.

De Blasio had also proposed closing non-essential businesses in those areas, but Cuomo suggested the boundaries needed to be drawn more broadly.

“We are at a critical time in our fight against the coronavirus,” the Democratic mayor said during a virtual press briefing ahead of Cuomo’s announcement. “We have to bring whatever we can to support it. We have to be tough on this. ”

The affected areas of the city are largely Orthodox Jewish strongholds, and some members of the community have complained about being chosen for law enforcement.

Agudath Israel of America, an Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, criticized what it called a “surprise” and the 10-person limit in red zones, saying religious practices were being targeted.

In response to Cuomo saying earlier that he had had productive conversations with community leaders, David Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath, said in the statement that “it was largely a monologue. one-way and contained no mention of this new plan ”.

North of the city, Orange County Health Commissioner Dr Irina Gelman has ordered schools closed for at least two weeks in Kiryas Joel, an Orthodox Jewish community where schools are already closed this week because of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

On average, nearly 28% of coronavirus tests have come back positive in the past three days in the village, also known as the town of Palm Tree. Statewide, the daily average has been around 1% in recent days.

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Peltz reported from New York. Associated Press writer Michael Hill in Albany contributed to this report.

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