NEW YORK - Gatherings with more than 500 people will temporarily be banned in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday when announcing one of several “dramatic actions” to contain the coronavirus.
The governor said the ban would start for most places at 5 p.m. Friday. The ban for Broadway theaters will start at 5 p.m. Thursday.
“We’ve already been talking to the Broadway theatres and they’re aware that we’re going to be doing this,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said venues of under 500 people can only be filled to half their capacity.
The actions came as the number of confirmed cases in New York state jumped to 328 from 216 on Wednesday. New York City had 95 cases.
The governor also said that the state could order the cancelation of elective surgeries in hospitals to protect health care workers and free up beds for coronavirus virus patients.
A part-time usher and security guard who worked at two Broadway theaters in recent days tested positive for COVID-19 and is under quarantine, according to the Shubert and Nederlander organizations, Broadway's largest theater chains.
Some of New York City's most esteemed cultural institutions announced Thursday that they are shutting down because of the coronavirus, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera, and Carnegie Hall.
“The Met’s priority is to protect and support our staff, volunteers, and visitors,” Daniel Weiss, the museum's president and chief executive, said in a statement. The museum will close its three locations starting Friday. No date for reopening was given.
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The opera company said all performances have been canceled through March 31. Carnegie Hall also announced it was closing its doors at midnight Thursday for all public events through the end of March.
The New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade was postponed for the first time in its 258-year history. De Blasio tweeted that the parade will take place at some future date “whether it’s in the heat of summer or on a clear fall day."
De Blasio said the city has 62 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Thursday morning. There are more than 200 cases statewide, with the largest cluster in the suburb of New Rochelle north of New York City.
The new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness including pneumonia.
As it spreads around the globe, the virus has prompted quarantines and restrictions on gatherings including Wednesday's announced cancellation of the remainder of the NBA season.
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De Blasio said in a statement that two public schools that share a building in the Bronx will close for 24 hours because a student tested positive for COVID-19.
But the mayor said that he hopes to avoid drastic measures such as shutting the city's entire public school system or its subways.
“I’m a believer that we have to be careful not to destroy people’s livelihoods, not to destroy the opportunity for our kids to be in a safe place learning every day in school,” he said. “And yet we’re going to have to introduce more and more restrictions, which we’re certainly going to be doing in New York City today and tomorrow.”
With the Associated Press