NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the green light for movie theaters to open outside of New York City on Saturday as he all but declared victory over the coronavirus hot spots that had threatened to spread into a wider flare up.
Cinemas will be permitted to open on Oct. 23 in counties outside the five boroughs that have an overall COVID-19 positivity rate of less than 2% and that have no significant hot spots, Cuomo said at a midtown press conference.
The movie theaters will be limited to 25% capacity or a maximum of 50 viewers per screen.
Cuomo also said the state had served a health order on an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Williamsburg that was planning a wedding that was expected to draw a crowd of some 10,000 revelers.
“You can get married, you just can’t have (10,000) people at your wedding,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo claimed the state has succeeded in cooling off the hot spots in neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and upstate that had threatened to spread into wider outbreak.
“Literally we are going block by block and now we have the sophistication to do that,” Cuomo said. “It’s much smarter it’s more effective and it’s less disruptive.”
Cuomo announced that a record 160,000 tests were conducted Friday and the state’s overall positive test rate stands at 1.1%. Nine New Yorkers died of coronavirus.
The positivity rates in Brooklyn’s hot spots has dipped to below 5%, or about 30% down from where it was at the peak of the outbreak two or three weeks ago.
Many of the hot spots overlap with predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in the city and upstate Orange and Rockland counties. The numbers spiked over the Jewish High Holidays, which include gatherings of synagogue congregations and families.
In several predominantly Hasidic areas upstate, the dip has been even more dramatic. In one zip code that includes the Hasidic enclave of Kiryas Joel, the positivity rate dropped by 75% from nearly 25% to a still-dangerous 6%.
Cuomo said the state and city appear to have been successful at preventing the virus from spreading beyond the neighborhoods that have been identified as red zones, where schools and businesses were ordered shut.
He said enforcing rules barring gatherings and ordering mask wearing have proven effective.
“If (people) are following the rules, the virus won’t spread,” Cuomo said. “It’s always a lack of compliance.”
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