New York Governor Andrew Cuomo finally gave a green light to allow gatherings, but the maximum number of people in a group should only be 10.This decision came after a lawsuit challengedGov. Cuomo's directive that only gave permission to Memorial Day celebrations and religious services.
The lawsuit that changed the guideline
The New York Civil Liberties Union sued Gov. Cuomo on behalf of a woman from Brooklyn who was arrested twice outside the City Hall for protesting the coronavirus shutdown in the state. The change took effect on May 22.
The union argued that the governor's initial order that was signed a day earlier infringed on the First Amendment rights of the New Yorkers by allowing certain gatherings but limiting demonstrations and protests during the coronavirus pandemic.
Christopher Dunn, the NYCLU legal director and lead attorney on the case said that they are glad that Gov. Cuomo reversed the course on his executive order. He added that the right to protest and being able to exercise free speech is the foundation of all other liberties, and during a crisis it is exactly what must be protected.
On May 22, Gov. Cuomo signed an amended executive order allowing all gatherings of up to 10 people for any lawful purpose or reason provided that they are six feet away from each other and they follow the cleaning and disinfecting protocols released by the Department of Health.
The NYCLU provided a copy of the new order, but it is not released on the governor's website yet. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Brooklyn woman named Linda Bouferguen, who was arrested twice outside City Hall for protesting Gov. Cuomo's order of a statewide lockdown and his stay-at-home rules.
Both times that Bouferguen protested, there were less than 20 people, and all of the participants were 6 feet away from each other, some even wore masks, according to the lawsuit.
Earlier in the week, Gov. Cuomo announced that New York will allow Memorial Day ceremonies honoring those who died while serving the military, however, there will be limits due to the coronavirus outbreak in the state.
The governor added that religious gatherings of 10 people or less will be permitted, as long as the participants stay at least six feet apart and wear masks.
Coronavirus in New York
As of May 2020, the United States has recorded a total of 1.6 million coronavirus cases, and the state of New York has the highest number with a total of 360,000 people infected and 23,282 deaths. The city of New York has a total number of 197, 000 coronavirus cases with 16,149 deaths.
On May 22, the death toll connected to coronavirus was below 100. Gov Cuomo said on May 23 that the Long Island and Mid-Hudson could reopen if the death toll continues to decline. Mid-Hudson could reopen on May 26 and Long Island on May 27.
The governor cautioned people to remain vigilant by wearing masks and practicing social distancing as the state being to slowly reopen.