Cuomo Orders Nonessential Workers to Stay Home, Suspends Evictions

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new measures today to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in New York State, as the state’s total number of positive coronavirus cases tops 7,100, with 4,400 cases in New York City.

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Only essential businesses can be open and have workers commuting and showing up in person, said the governor. He ordered 100 percent of the nonessential workforce to work from home and remain indoors when possible. 

On the real estate front, Cuomo announced a 90-day moratorium on all residential and commercial evictions. The move comes after the state court system said it would suspend the execution of eviction warrants for residential and commercial tenants indefinitely. 

He also unveiled a new set of rules for interacting with vulnerable groups, specifically nursing homes and senior centers. Dubbed “Matilda’s Law” after Cuomo’s elderly mother, all visitors and aides entering senior facilities must be pre-screened, and their temperature must be taken before entry. Vulnerable people should wear masks in the presence of others, and people around them should also wear masks. Immunocompromised and elderly people should also remain six feet away from others and stay off public transportation unless it’s urgent and necessary.

Non-vulnerable people cannot gather in groups and should avoid public transportation. Gatherings should be limited to workers providing essential services, and social distancing must be practiced. 

“These provisions will be enforced,” said the governor. “These are not helpful hints. These are legal provisions, they will be enforced, and there will be a civil fine and mandatory closure for any business that is not in compliance. Your actions can affect my health.”

Individuals will not be fined for violating these orders; only businesses will be fined, said the governor. 

Essential operations, which can remain open, include public transit, food delivery services, grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, manufacturers of essential items, gas stations, farmer’s markets, hardware and building supply stores and restaurants and bars. Restaurants and bars continue to be limited to delivery only or take-out only. Empire State Development Corporation released a list of essential services and business here. Essential construction services include “skilled trades such as electricians and plumbers” and “related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or for emergency repair and safety purposes.”

The new provisions will take effect on Sunday night.