COVID crackdown underway as 'substantial' restrictions coming to NYC

With high-risk businesses closed indefinitely on southern Staten Island as of Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio is warning of more 'substantial' COVID restrictions citywide in the days to come.

All of the south shore of Staten Island is now in an orange zone of restrictions forcing the closures of gyms, salons, and indoor dining. Outdoor dining is allowed, but indoor and outdoor gatherings must be capped at 10 people.

The northern part of the borough is in a yellow zone along with upper Manhattan. Indoor and outdoor dining is capped in a yellow zone at four people per table.

During a televised interview Tuesday, de Blasio said the restrictions were just the beginning.

"In the next week or two we should see some substantial restrictions," said de Blasio. "I think indoor dining will be closed, gyms will be closed.  I'm not happy about it. No one is happy about it but that's what's coming."

The coronavirus positivity rate is expected to spike during the holidays.  On Staten Island, the number of people hospitalized with coronavirus has tripled in the last three weeks. Across the state, the positivity rate has increased by 120% for the same time period.

"The day after New Year's, the positivity rate will go from 2.9% to 12%," said NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New York recorded 6,265 new positive cases Tuesday, the highest for a single day since April 24. About 3% of tests over the past week have come back positive, more than double the rate a month ago.

New infections have been on the rise in New York this fall, and state and county public health officials say Halloween parties have helped fuel the latest surge this month. Hospitalizations rose to nearly 3,000 COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday. The state has averaged 2,599 patients daily over the past seven days, an 82% increase from compared to 1,428 two weeks ago.

“This is where I think if we’re going to get in trouble, you’re going to see it in a few days, seven days after this Thanksgiving weekend, you’ll start to feel the number," Cuomo said at a news conference Wednesday in Rochester.

The state averaged 5,599 new cases each day over the past seven days. That’s up 56% from two weeks ago, and more than triple the average as of four weeks ago.

City officials are stepping up enforcement to control the spread of the virus by trying to limit non-essential travel. Vehicle checkpoints and inspections will take place at transit hubs by sheriffs officers. Anyone arriving from out-of-state must quarantine for 14 days or show proof of a negative COVID test before and after arrival.

Gov. Cuomo is urging local authorities to enforce the limit of 10 people at gatherings. But some county sheriffs including Suffolk, Fulton, and Erie have said they would not enforce the law.

"They're giving their political opinion. They are saying: I will only enforce the laws I agree with. That is a frightening precedent. What if they don't agree with anti-discrimination laws? What if they don't agree domestic violence laws?" said Cuomo.

RELATED: NYC announces COVID travel enforcement blitz during holidays

With the Associated Press.

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