Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Coronavirus Regulations Affect Churches

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued new regulations affecting mass gatherings. These regulations affect churches.

Dated March 12, 2020, Gov. Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 202.1 includes the following provisions:

  • A gathering or event that is expected to be attended by more than 500 people must either be cancelled or be postponed for at least 30 days;
  • Effective March 13, a gathering or event that is expected to be attended by fewer than 500 people must operate at no greater than 50% occupancy and no greater than 50% of seating capacity for the next 30 days.

The directives described above do not apply to the following entities: A “school, hospital, nursing home, other medical office or facility as determined by the Commissioner of Health, mass transit or mass transit facility, governmental facility, law enforcement facility,” retail establishment, or grocery store. Furthermore, the “Commissioner of Health may allow for businesses that are not public gathering spaces to exceed five hundred persons if the occupancy is less than fifty percent capacity subject to public health review.”

The Governor’s executive order remains in effect until April 11, 2020. The full text of the order is available at Governor.NY.gov.

This commentary is informational in nature, and should not be construed as legal advice. Churches and others with additional questions about Executive Order No. 202.1 should contact the New York State Department of Health or their county or municipal department of health, or should consult an attorney.