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On Wednesday afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered bars, restaurants, and other New York establishments with liquor licenses to close at 10 p.m., except for takeout, a measure that will take effect on Friday. Groups at private residences will now be limited to ten people, and gyms must also close at 10 p.m.
The order is designed to halt the increasing spread of COVID in the state that was the epicenter of the pandemic this spring. “If you look at where the cases are coming from, if you do the contact tracing, you’ll see they’re coming from three main areas, and we’re going to act on three main areas,” Cuomo said, referring to bars, restaurants, and private parties. Indoor dining, however, will remain open before 10 p.m., and the governor stated that future measures could include “reducing the number of people in indoor dining” below the current 50 percent capacity (or 25 percent in New York City). Cuomo said on Tuesday that the measures would be enforced by local law officials with the aid of the State Liquor Authority.
On Tuesday, New York breached a 3 percent positive testing rate statewide for the first time since the summer, a number that dipped slightly on Wednesday to 2.9 percent. In New York City, that number is at 2.52 percent, in a seven-day rolling average. If the positive testing rate reaches a sustained 3 percent, Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to close in-person classes throughout the city.
Hot spots are shifting throughout the boroughs, where there were over 1,000 new cases for five straight days last week — a streak that last occurred in May. In October, some of the largest outbreaks were located in south Brooklyn, where shutdown measures, including school and nonessential business closures, proved successful; 23 schools in the affected areas will reopen tomorrow. As of Wednesday, the Tottenville and Great Kills neighborhoods in south Staten Island have the highest seven-day testing averages in the city, at 5.74 and 5.04 percent, respectively.
Similar restrictions have been levied in the tristate area, where caseloads are rising at rates higher than in New York. In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy ordered on Tuesday that bars and restaurants must close at 10 p.m., while last week Connecticut governor Ned Lamont restricted private gatherings there to ten people. As the region appears to begin a gradual descent into a potential winter lockdown, the virus is spreading at a staggering rate in many western and midwestern states, with hospitalizations now at an all-time high nationwide. In the first ten days of November alone, 1 million Americans tested positive for the coronavirus.