NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that the state is taking the "ultimate step," issuing an executive order mandating all non-essential businesses keep all workers home and that all New York residents must stay home in the fight against coronavirus.
The new order will go into effect on Sunday. Referring to the policy as "New York State on pause" in a press conference, Cuomo said that people should "remain indoors to the greatest extent to protect physical and mental health."
"No, this is not life as usual,'' Cuomo said at a news conference. "Accept it, and realize it, and deal with it.``
He clarified that essential services including public transit and food deliveries will continue to operate.
"Grocery stores need food, pharmacies need drugs, your internet has to continue to work, the water has to turn on when you turn the faucet," Cuomo said.
Liquor stores in New York will remain open. They are considered an essential business.
The governor said he knows this will hurt many businesses and workers and that he takes full responsibility.
"They will cause businesses to close, they will cause employees to stay at home, I understand that; they will cause much unhappiness, I understand that also," Cuomo said. "Just so we're all clear, this is a statewide order. It's not what your county executive is doing, it's not what your mayor is doing, it's not what anyone else but me is doing, and I accept full responsibility. If someone is unhappy, if somebody wants to blame someone, or complain about someone, blame me."
Additional rules for people over 70 or vulnerable populations include staying indoors, going outside only for solitary exercise, not visiting other households, wearing masks in the presence of other people and avoid public transportation.
For everyone else, the rules include no non-essential gatherings of people of any size for any reason, social distancing of at least six feet, only outdoor recreation that are non-contact activities, limiting use of public transit, avoiding interacting with vulnerable populations and using alcohol wipes.
"These provisions will be enforced," Cuomo said. "These are not helpful hints." He said that businesses could face fines and mandatory closures. At this time, individuals do not face legal consequences.
Cuomo said that there are 8,516 positive cases in New York State, with more than 5,000 in New York City alone.
So far, 44 people in New York State have died from COVID-19.
Cuomo also said that all non-critical elective surgeries will be canceled in New York state, which could free up to 35 percent of existing hospital beds.
The governor also said that the state would purchase medical supplies like gloves, gowns and masks at a premium, and encouraged any manufacturers who have the capacity to produce these items to do so.
"If you can make them, we will give you funding to do it," Cuomo told manufacturers.
He also asked any health departments with unused ventilators to provide them for the state's use.
"The ventilators are to this war what missiles were to World War II," Cuomo said, invoking the image of Rosie the Riveter.
The governor said that he was pausing all commercial and residential evictions for 90 days.