State shifts strategy on coronavirus hotspots
by Sara Krevoy
Oct 14, 2020 | 1049 views | 0 0 comments | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
New York City has not yet seen a decline in COVID-19 cases within Brooklyn and Queens hotspots since the state took over the reigns on enforcement of public health regulations last week, but there have been developments in the approach officials are taking to contain the outbreaks.

On Thursday, the city rolled out a series of shutdowns according to a color-coded zone plan outlined by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The step marks a departure from the strategy previously proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, which involved targeting 22 cluster zip codes across both boroughs that saw infection rates surge above 2 and 3 percent.

“We have a clear and effective plan to respond to any clusters that threaten our progress,” Cuomo tweeted on Tuesday after initially announcing his Cluster Action Initiative. “We will attack each area in the cluster with appropriate restrictions.”

On the map defined by the state, red zones represent central hotspots, surrounded by an orange and then a yellow ring that form a perimeter. The varying tiers of lockdowns, which correspond to color, will be in effect for a minimum of 14 days, says the governor.

The heaviest restrictions fall on red zones, with all public and private schools, as well as nonessential businesses, required to shutter. Restaurants in these areas are limited to takeout only, and mass gatherings are prohibited.

Cuomo also placed strict regulations on houses of worship in red clusters, allowing only 25 percent capacity inside the buildings, setting the maximum at 10 people.

The governor said these restrictions come in response to compliance violations seen in Orthodox Jewish communities, prompting fiery protests in Borough Park in opposition to his action.

Both the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America filed lawsuits against the state as a result of its executive order, claiming the governor has violated their rights to religious freedom.

“The state has completely disregarded the fact that our safety protocols have worked and it is an insult to once again penalize all those who have made the safe return to church work,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn in a statement.

As for orange zones, schools are restricted to remote learning only, but only high-risk businesses such as gyms are closed.

Outdoor dining is limited to at most four customers per table, while houses of worship in these areas are restricted to 33 percent capacity (or a max of 25 people).

Yellow zones are under the least stringent guidelines, but officials say they are proceeding with caution in these areas. Schools remain open and are subject to mandatory COVID-19 testing.

Indoor and outdoor dining is permitted, with restaurants restricted to just four patrons at one table. Houses of worship are limited to 50 percent capacity.

New Yorkers can determine what zone their homes or businesses fall in by clicking here.

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