Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday announced houses of worship – churches, mosques and synagogues – can reopen to 25% capacity in phase two regions. Previously, the governor said these institutions couldn’t reopen until phase four of his “New York Forward” reopening plan.
Cuomo said congregants should continue to social distance and wear a mask.
Houses of worship were closed to the public when Cuomo put “New York State on PAUSE” in mid-March. He put in this executive order to stop the possible spread of the coronavirus.
"The reopening of the economy is a valve – we said we were going to open the valve incrementally and then watch the metrics, and our metrics today are all very good so we're going to open the valve more than we originally anticipated," Cuomo said. "We now have the lowest number of hospitalizations and deaths from coronavirus since this pandemic began – which is great news – so we are going to accelerate the opening of temples, mosques and churches and allow these places of worship to open with up to 25% capacity in phase two. But people still have to stay smart and follow all the necessary precautions and guidelines because, if the metrics start to change, the reopening will have to be slowed down."
The governor announced the state has reached the lowest number of hospitalizations and deaths since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of total hospitalizations was down Friday to 2,603 from a record-high of 18,825 during the peak of the pandemic, and 35 people in New York passed away due to COVID-19, down from a record-high of 800 just eight weeks ago.
Cuomo also will issue an executive order allowing commercial buildings to conduct temperature checks for anyone entering the building as office workers begin to return to the workplace.