ALBANY — New York bars, gyms and restaurants will be restricted with a new curfew and private house parties will be limited to 10 people starting Friday night, officials said, as COVID-19 cases increase across the state, mirroring a raging national virus surge and hospitalizations across the globe.
No more than 10 people will be allowed to gather in any private residence in the state, excluding legal residents of the dwelling, to reduce the chances of large gatherings or house parties, especially with the approaching Thanksgiving and holiday season, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
The rule applies to, but does not include, households with more than 10 people.
“States around us have capped parties at private residences to no more than 10 people,” Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters. “Halloween parties, football parties, just let’s get together and have a party. This is the third one of the three great spreaders as identified by our contact tracing.”
Gyms, bars, restaurants or any State Liquor Authority-licensed establishments, such as a bowling alley, must close at 10 p.m. After 10 p.m., restaurants can do curbside food pickup only.
“Bars, restaurants, gyms, house parties — that’s where it’s coming from, primarily, and those are the ones we can address,” Cuomo said.
Of indoor dining, the governor added: “What happens in that setting, it’s very hard to police, it’s very hard for people to maintain the discipline of sitting there eating and drinking and chatting and keeping a mask on.”
The state’s new COVID regulations go into effect at 10 p.m. Friday. New Jersey announced a similar statewide 10 p.m. indoor dining cutoff Monday.
The enhanced coronavirus restrictions come on the heels of a national surge of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in more than 47 states and territories.
The state reported Wednesday an elevated COVID-19 rate of 2.9% positives, including microclusters, of more than 164,000 diagnostic tests. The positivity rate without the oversampled microclusters included is 2.5%.
With its increasing 2.5%, New York state continues to maintain one of the nation’s lowest COVID-19 infection rates, with neighboring New Jersey averaging at about 5%, Connecticut up to about 7% and Pennsylvania soaring to a near 15% infection rate.
“If the national numbers are going up and the states around you are going up, be prepared,” Cuomo said. “We have always been good at staying ahead of COVID, and this is the calibration that we’ve talked about. There was never a light switch, it was never binary economic activity or public health — it was always both.”
Enforcing the state’s new rules requires a balance of local government effort and personal discipline, Cuomo said.
“You can make rules, the rules are only as good as the enforcement, period,” the governor said. “It’s not enough to do just all COVID safety. There are only two fundamental truths in this situation: It’s individual discipline and it’s government enforcement, period.”
New York’s infection rate has steadily increased over the last month with the emergence of microclusters in parts of Western New York, Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson Valley and New York City, but mainly hovered between 1% and 2% through October. The state positivity rate was 1.8% on Friday, but has remained above 2% since Saturday.
Statewide COVID hospitalizations continued their steady increase over the last month to 1,628 patients Wednesday — up 184 since Monday.
Twenty-one New Yorkers died from COVID-19 complications Tuesday, down from 32 fatalities the day before.
“What we’re seeing is what they predicted for months for anyone who was listening,” Cuomo said of global health experts and a fall and winter COVID surge. “New York is a ship on the COVID tide. It is getting much, much worse by the day.”