Cuomo orders shutdowns in NYC’s COVID-19 hot spots
( NYPost )
The heart of Brooklyn and two big swaths of Queens will again see non-essential businesses and schools shuttered by week’s end as the coronavirus surges in the city, Gov. Cuomo announced Tuesday.
The edict came down following days of public back-and-forth between Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, who on Sunday sought the state’s blessing to shutdown nine troubled ZIP codes in the boroughs.
“When you see the cluster, you have to stop it at that point,” Cuomo said during an Albany press briefing. “Crush the cluster and stop the spread.”
Cuomo on Monday granted de Blasio’s wish to close schools in the areas, but balked at locking up businesses until more precise lines of demarcation could be drawn than ZIP code borders.
On Tuesday, he introduced a system guided by coronavirus diagnosis data and color-coded, with varying levels of restrictions in each zone.
Red “intense clusters” will see all non-essential businesses and schools closed, restaurants reduced to takeout only, mass gatherings prohibited and houses of worship limited to a maximum of 25 percent capacity or 10 people, Cuomo said.
The closures must be made no later than Friday — though a spokesman for de Blasio tweeted that they would likely begin Thursday — and run for at least two weeks.
A map released by the governor’s office shows Brooklyn’s red zone encompassing a huge chunk of the borough, including much of Borough Park, Midwood and Homecrest.
It is ringed by an orange zone, where schools will also go to remote learning, high-risk non-essential businesses including gyms will be closed and restaurants will be restricted to outdoor dining with a maximum of four people per table.
In those areas, mass gatherings will be capped at 10 attendees, and houses of worship at either 25 congregants or 33 percent capacity.
Beyond the orange area is a yellow zone, which in Brooklyn nearly reaches Prospect Park in the north, extends all the way to the borough’s southern shore in Coney Island, and stretches from the western shore past Pennsylvania Avenue in East New York.
In the yellow zones, businesses will remain open, including restaurants to both indoor and outdoor dining, though with the same four-to-a-table limit.
Schools too will remain open to in-person learning in those areas, but with mandatory weekly testing of students, teachers and staff under standards to be set by the state Department of Health no later than Friday.
Mass gatherings will be limited to 25 people, and houses of worship to 50 percent capacity.
Queens has two such three-tiered areas, centered around Far Rockaway and Forest Hills.
We have a clear and effective plan to respond to any clusters that threaten our progress. We will attack each area in the cluster with appropriate restrictions. Here is the map of the Brooklyn cluster along with the rules. pic.twitter.com/xdV84gcQJg — Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) October 6, 2020
North Brooklyn’s Williamsburg noticeably has no state-ordered restrictions at this time, despite multiple ZIP codes in that area making City Hall’s watch list of rising coronavirus cases.
Outside of New York City, zones were also established in troublesome areas of Binghamton as well as Orange and Rockland counties.
Cuomo on Tuesday once again slammed local leaders for lax enforcement of existing coronavirus regulations, contending that had they played by the rules all along a second wave of closures might not be necessary now.
“The rules are only as good as the enforcement,” he said. “I’m not going to pass more laws that are not enforced.”
On Monday he announced that state officials would start overseeing enforcement within designated hot-spots, with localities including New York City required to provide city workers to staff the effort.