At a press conference on Friday morning, March 20, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all workers in non-essential businesses throughout the state are required to stay home in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The executive order takes effect Sunday evening (March 22), Cuomo said, acknowledging that his actions will cause disruption for New York States’s 19 million residents. “They will cause businesses to close. They’ll cause employees to stay at home. I understand that. They will cause much unhappiness. I understand that also. But I accept full responsibility. If someone is unhappy, if somebody wants to blame someone, or complain about someone, blame me. There is no one else who is responsible for this decision.”
Governor Cuomo noted that he isn’t issuing a “shelter in place” order (which refers to active shooter situations), but that the state was “closing the valve” of daily life to contain the outbreak. He urged New Yorkers to “remain indoors to the greatest extent.”
Food delivery service and public transportation will remain operational.
Mandatory closures and civil fines will be imposed for businesses that don’t comply with the new mandate beginning on Sunday.
The Executive Order, which takes effect Sunday, will state:
Healthy people under 70 years old should limit their outside activity to getting groceries and medicine, but are permitted to exercise and walk outside, as long as they stay six feet away from others.
Mass transit will keep operating, but people should not use it unless absolutely necessary. Roads will stay open.
Nonessential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason are banned.
Stronger restrictions for people 70 years of age and older, people with compromised immune systems, and people with underlying illnesses include wearing masks when in the company of others not visiting households with multiple people.
Businesses considered nonessential must keep all of their workforce at home, which effectively means that if the business depends on a physical location, it must close.
Essential businesses that can remain open include: grocers and restaurants, health care providers, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, banks, hardware stores, laundromats and cleaners, child-care providers, auto repair, utilities, warehouses and distributors, plumbers and other skilled contractors, animal-care providers, transportation providers, construction companies and many kinds of manufacturers.
Any businesses violating the order would be fined and forced to close. The state does not plan to fine individuals who violated the regulations, Mr. Cuomo said.
Governor Cuomo confirmed that as of late Friday morning, there were more than 7,000 confirmed cases (with 35 deaths) due to the COVID-19 virus in New York State.