NEW YORK CITY — All gatherings of 500 people or more have been banned in New York City under a measure announced Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It’s an aggressive move to tackle the spread of the new coronavirus that had reached 62 cases in the city by Thursday morning.
The measure will result in numerous events — including all Broadway productions, concerts and sporting events — having to shut down, Cuomo said.
In addition to closing venues with 500-person capacities, venues that seat fewer than 500 people will have their capacities reduced by 50 percent, Cuomo said. The regulations will go into effect at 5 p.m. Thursday for Broadway shows and at 5 p.m. Friday for other venues, according to the governor.
New containment measures will affect “congregant spaces” where people gather in one shared room, not buildings such as offices, state officials said. Businesses that refuse to follow the new containment measures will be subject to fines, state officials said Thursday.
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While the new measures are drastic, Cuomo warned against becoming overly anxious about the virus. During a news conference Thursday, Cuomo described new coronavirus as “manageable,” comparing it favorably to the much-more-“frightening” outbreak of Ebola years ago.
Broadway performances will be suspended until at least April 12, according to The Broadway League.
“Our top priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatregoers and the thousands of people who work in the theater industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers and many other dedicated professionals,” Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin said in a statement.
Cuomo said Thursday that federal action will be needed to fully contain the spread of coronavirus across New York.
“The loss of revenue to the state budget is incalculable. You have no idea …. I don’t see any possibility of state’s being able to handle this without federal action,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo also predicted that New York’s spread may mimic those seen in China and Italy, saying that the situation is “going to get worse before it gets better.”
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