NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- New York will require bars, restaurants and gyms to close at 10 p.m. and limit private indoor and outdoor gatherings to 10 people as the state works to flatten its steadily increasing COVID-19 curve, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
In a teleconference with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Cuomo said contact tracing efforts linked the state’s recent COVID-19 surge to three “main areas”: bars and restaurants, gyms and house parties.
“That’s where it’s coming from, primarily," he said. "And those are the ones that we can address."
Starting Friday, Nov. 13, establishments with State Liquor Authority-issued licenses — including businesses like bowling alleys — will have to shutter their indoor and outdoor dining areas at 10 p.m., the governor said. Gyms will also have to close at that time.
Restaurants and bars will still be able to offer curbside pickup and delivery after 10 p.m., but will only be allowed to serve food, not alcohol, Cuomo noted.
Indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences, meanwhile, will be limited to 10 people starting Friday, he said, calling them a "major source of COVID spread."
Cuomo initially said only indoor gatherings would be subject to the new rule, but a press release his office sent out after his teleconference clarified that both indoor and outdoor gatherings would be capped at 10 people.
The state could tighten the new restrictions if they are not effective, the governor warned.
“If these measures are not sufficient to slow the spread, we will reduce, we’ll turn the valve more, and part of that would be reducing the number of people in indoor dining,” he said.
“If that doesn’t work, if these numbers keep going crazy, you have some scientists who believe we’re going back to a close-down,” he added. “I’m just praying that doesn’t happen.”
Cuomo's announcement came a day after New York state’s COVID-19 infection rate topped 3 percent for the first time in months, with a daily case total comparable to those the state reported in the spring.
On Wednesday, the state’s infection rate dipped below 3 percent again — to 2.93 percent — but the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 rose by 80 from Tuesday, to 1,628, Cuomo said.
Of the 1,628 hospitalized patients, 304 were in intensive care units and 135 were on ventilators, the governor noted. New York also reported 21 new COVID-19 deaths.
Excluding its COVID-19 microclusters, the state logged a 2.58 percent infection rate, Cuomo said. The microclusters themselves reported a 4.96 percent positivity rate.
Cuomo on Wednesday also said the state would designate Staten Island — which has seen high infection rates in recent weeks — a precautionary “yellow zone." A map of the new zone is available on the state's website.
“New York is a ship on the COVID tide. Right? Yesterday, we actually saw... the country set a new record, in terms of COVID cases, believe it or not,” he said. “So it really is getting much, much worse by the day.”