Hot spot zone restrictions issued

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a coronavirus briefing in Manhattan on Sept. 29. Courtesy of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo and officials on New York’s coronavirus task force imposed new social-distancing and mass-gathering restrictions within geographic boundaries of coronavirus hot spots Tuesday as new infections continue to surge downstate and in pockets of Western New York.

Stricter social distancing, maximum capacity and mass gathering rules will apply to geographic areas surrounding COVID clusters throughout the state as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

“We do it because we’re effective, that’s why,” Cuomo said of the new rules Tuesday during a coronavirus briefing in the state Capitol. “This is a government that is competent — this is a government that is capable. This is a government that is helping people through this horrendous situation.

“Together, we’re going to get this done.”

State officials label COVID clusters by geographic proximity to addresses with confirmed coronavirus cases. Parts of the state in the “red zone” include Brooklyn and Queens in New York City, Orange and Rockland counties in the Mid-Hudson Region and Binghamton in Western New York.

Areas within 1 mile of the hot spot ZIP code are under a red advisory where mass gatherings are prohibited and nonessential businesses are closed. Dining is closed to takeout only, and schools shut and transitioned to remote learning.

The state will require houses of worship in red zones to operate with 10 people maximum or 25% capacity.

Separate rules apply in the yellow caution area, or 1.5 miles outside the hot spot, with schools remaining limited to remote learning, 25 maximum worshipers in a house of worship, gatherings limited to 10 attendees, and high-risk, nonessential businesses, such as gyms, will be closed.

Local governments must enforce the new rules by Friday.

The stricter regulations will be in effect in an area for a minimum of 14 days, or one virus incubation period.

“And then we’ll see where we are on the numbers and we’ll adjust from there,” Cuomo said.

Local governments must assign police to the state’s enforcement task force, which includes hundreds of state troopers and State Liquor Authority investigators, ensuring localities and establishments are following the COVID-19 mandates.

There’s no one who can say they didn’t see this coming,” Cuomo said. “We can sit here all day long and come up with laws and rules. They’re only as good as their enforcement. A lack of enforcement has contributed to this problem.”

The state Health Department sent a message Friday to local governments with COVID-19 hot spots, including the targeted 20 ZIP codes in Orange and Rockland counties in the Mid-Hudson region and downstate metropolitan area, several Brooklyn neighborhoods in New York City and pockets of new infections in Nassau County on Long Island.

The state reported a 1.2% positive coronavirus infection rate Tuesday, with an average 5.5% positivity rate in the 20 hotspot ZIP codes.

Nine New Yorkers died from the virus Monday.

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