VESTAL, NY (WSKG) – All public gatherings of 500 people or more are banned in New York starting Friday, and Broadway shows are effectively shut down as of Thursday evening. That’s after a directive from Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo said the aim is to reduce population density to prevent the spread of the corona virus. State health officials report 112 new confirmed cases Thursday. The state has a total 328.
Cuomo said the predicted spread of COVID-19 is a public health emergency, and so he has to take dramatic steps.
The ban effectively shuts down Broadway shows, and other large performance venues , including the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, which announced on its website that all performances are cancelled immediately, through March 31st.
Venues that seat fewer than 500 people must reduce their capacity by 50-percent.
“From zero to 500, we’re reducing the capacity by 50 percent, so 50-percent of your seated capacity is the new capacity for a facility,” he said.
Cuomo said he is also trying to prepare for a potential increase in need for hospital beds, and is asking former healthcare workers to contact their employers to get reinstated in case they are needed. The governor says he is considering cancelling elective surgeries to free up beds, but hasn’t made that decision yet.
There are also new rules for nursing homes. Staff must wear masks and be checked daily for symptoms. All visitors are barred from entry, unless the patient is extremely ill and needs to see family .