New York state governor Andrew Cuomo. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/SANITAGO FELIPE
New York state governor Andrew Cuomo. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/SANITAGO FELIPE

New York — On Friday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo ordered non-essential businesses to close and banned all gatherings, in an escalation of attempts to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo said civil fines will be handed out to anyone violating the order, which he said will come into effect on Sunday evening.

“We’re all in quarantine now,” he told reporters, adding that New York state is “on pause”.

Cuomo’s announcement came a day after California governor Gavin Newsom announced a lockdown for the state’s 40-million residents.

“They are taking strong steps,” US President Donald Trump said Friday shortly after Cuomo’s press conference. “I applaud them.” 

Cuomo said an executive order would be passed on Friday mandating that only essential businesses can remain open from late Sunday. He said that essential services include grocery stores and pharmacies.

Cuomo added that “100% of workforces” for non-essential business must stay at home and that under “Matilda’s Law,” named after his mother, “non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size” are cancelled.

He ordered residents to only exercise alone and not hold any group activities outside, such as basketball, and that citizens avoid public transport “unless urgent and absolutely necessary”.

“These actions will cause disruption. They will cause much unhappiness. I understand that,” said Cuomo.

The announcement came as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in New York hit 7,000. According to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University, 205 people have died from Covid-19 in the US, with more than 14,000 people affected.


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