Government Actions Affect Mass Gatherings

The spread of the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) has led to a flurry of government actions to help prevent people from becoming infected and to assist those who do become infected. Some of those actions affect churches and schools.

On March 12, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 202.1, which included restrictions on mass gatherings. On March 14, the Governor issued Executive Order No. 202.2 and Executive Order No. 202.3. Executive Order No. 202.3 includes new restrictions on mass gatherings. It provides that any large gathering or event that is expected to be attended by more than 50 people shall be cancelled until further notice. This restriction specifically includes worship services. The regulation also requires the closure of casinos, gyms, fitness centers, and movie theaters. Restaurants and bars are closed for on-premises service, but may serve food and beverages via take-out or delivery.

On March 14, Gov. Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 202.4. This order includes restrictions on schools; specifically, it closes every school in the State of New York from Wednesday, March 18 until Wednesday, April 1, 2020. On April 1, the state shall re-evaluate the situation and determine whether additional school closures are needed.

On March 16, President Donald Trump issued guidelines recommending that Americans avoid social gatherings attended by more than 10 people for the next 15 days. The President also made further recommendations, including a recommendation that Americans avoid discretionary travel. The President’s recommendations are not binding.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms urges all Christian New Yorkers to act prudently in response to the dramatic changes in our lives that have been brought about by the coronavirus crisis. Please pray for all those who have been infected, for their families, for medical professionals, and for the government officials that are responding to this crisis.

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.