New York – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday lifted the total ban on meetings of any size with an executive order that now allows up to 10 people to be in the same place as long as they adhere to other rules. of social distancing taken during the coronavirus pandemic.
The order, issued on the eve of Memorial Day weekend in Wars, represents one of the largest steps the state has taken to lift restrictions in March that banned gatherings of any kind, except for essential workers and those who live in the same house.
The new measure doesn’t necessarily pave the way for backyard roasts and group picnics that are hallmarks of the holiday. The order still requires that the people who meet adhere to “social distancing protocols, and cleaning and disinfection protocols required by the Department of Health.”
That means people should still keep a minimum of 6 feet from each other, or wear face masks or face shields when they can’t keep that distance in public.
New Jersey adopted similar rules and allows groups of up to 25 people outside and meetings inside of up to 10 people. Connecticut has allowed restaurants with outdoor tables to serve on-site.
Cuomo had earlier this week approved an order allowing gatherings of up to 10 people exclusively for religious services and Memorial Day in Wars.
That restriction sparked a lawsuit by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), which stated that if it was safe to meet for the purpose of honoring veterans and for religious ceremonies, the Constitution required that the same right be extended to meetings for other motives.
The NYCLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of New York City resident Linda Bouferguen, who the group says was arrested twice outside City Hall for protesting the state shutdown. The woman wants to organize another protest on Saturday.
NYCLU legal director Christopher Dunn said in a statement that the organization was “pleased to see the governor back down.”
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said the new order adheres to guidelines from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which states that meetings of up to 10 people are safe if they maintain the distance between them.