NY's Cuomo opens movie theaters as coronavirus hot spots cool off but cancels a Brooklyn wedding with 10,000 guests
NEW YORK - Governor Andrew Cuomo gave the go-ahead for cinemas to open outside of New York City on Saturday as he declared victory over coronavirus hotspots, which threatened to spread in a major flare.
Theaters are allowed to open in counties outside of the five counties that have a COVID-19 positivity rate of less than 2% and no significant hot spots on October 23, Cuomo said at a press conference in Midtown.
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The cinemas are limited to 25% capacity or a maximum of 50 viewers per screen.
Cuomo also said the state had issued health regulations for an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Williamsburg that was planning a wedding that should attract a crowd of about 10,000 revelers.
"You can get married, you just can't have (10,000) people at your wedding," said Cuomo.
Cuomo claimed the state had managed to cool the hot spots in Brooklyn, Queens and the hinterland that threatened to spread in a major outbreak.
"We literally go block by block and now we have the sophistication to do that," said Cuomo. "It's a lot smarter, more effective, and less disruptive."
Cuomo announced that a record 160,000 tests were conducted on Friday and the state's overall positive test rate is 1.1%. Nine New Yorkers died from coronavirus.
The positivity rates at Brooklyn hot spots have dropped below 5%, or about 30% less than two or three weeks ago when the outbreak peaked.
Many of the hot spots overlap with predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in the city and the Orange and Rockland counties in the hinterland. The numbers rose during Jewish holy days, which include gatherings of synagogue communities and families.
In several mainly Hasidic areas in the hinterland, the decline was even more dramatic. In a zip code that includes the Hasidic enclave of Kiryas Joel, the positivity rate dropped 75% from nearly 25% to a still dangerous 6%.
According to Cuomo, the state and city appear to have succeeded in preventing the virus from spreading beyond the neighborhoods identified as red zones, where schools and businesses have closed.
He said enforcing rules that exclude gatherings and order masks to be worn have been shown to be effective.
"If (people) follow the rules, the virus won't spread," Cuomo said. "There is always a lack of compliance."
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