On March 20, 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a new executive order entitled “New York State on PAUSE.” According to the Governor’s announcement, that order (the text of which, as of this writing, has not yet been released) includes the following provisions:
- Every non-essential business in New York must cease its in-office functions by 8:00 PM on Sunday, March 22, 2020. (For more information on what constitutes an essential business, please click here for guidance.)
- All non-essential gatherings, regardless of size, are canceled or postponed.
- Individuals must practice social distancing when in public by staying at least six (6) feet away from others; outdoor recreation involving physical contact is banned.
- Public transportation should only be used when absolutely necessary.
- Sick persons should not leave their homes, except if they are obtaining medical care and their health care provider has determined that leaving home is in their best interest.
Gov. Cuomo also set forth a list of rules affecting vulnerable populations, including “individuals age 70 and older, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying illnesses.” Those rules are available here.
In a guidance document, Gov. Cuomo stated that houses of worship are not ordered closed, but “strongly recommended” that religious services not be held until further notice. Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 202.3, which requires that any large gathering or event that is expected to be attended by more than 50 people be cancelled until further notice, remains in effect.
Jason J. McGuire, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF), made the following remarks: “New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms urges all New Yorkers and all churches to fully comply with Gov. Cuomo’s orders regarding the coronavirus epidemic. While church services with less than 50 attendees are still allowed, NYCF urges churches to err on the side of caution and to explore live streaming and other options as alternatives to in-person services. In these difficult circumstances, we should respect the governing authorities (Romans 13:1) and love our neighbors (Mark 12:31) by doing our part to thwart the spread of this epidemic.”