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Cuomo: Movie theaters outside NYC can reopen at 25% capacity beginning next week, with restrictions

The governor also said New York will continue its "micro-cluster strategy" with refined detection, specific mitigation and enforcement.

News 12 Staff

Oct 17, 2020, 9:26 PM

Updated 1,340 days ago


Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that movie theaters in areas outside of New York City that aren't in cluster zones can reopen with restrictions on Oct. 23.
He says they can operate at 25% capacity, and will be limited to no more than 50 people per screen. The governor says that assigned seating is also required, and masks must be worn unless seated or dining.
Like many businesses, theaters closed down in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Movie theaters owners tell News 12 they've been preparing for months to open their doors, and say they're ready to welcome back moviegoers safely.
Anne and Henry Stampfel who own theaters in Malverne, Bellmore and Queens, say they've been struggling for seven months as they still have to pay insurance and utilities.
Ahead of reopening, they say their theaters have been cleaned and roped off sections of seats.
-Ahead of Saturday's news conference, secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa said Cuomo would be outlining the state's COVID strategy for the fall.
-Gov. Cuomo began the briefing by recapping the history of how the virus came to the US, noting that it has always 'been a step ahead of us' and was in the country spreading before it was known. He also accused to the federal government of 'abdication' of responsibility for the pandemic crisis.
-Cuomo says it comes down to wearing masks, and says the have become a "political symbol" in the country. He accuses President Trump of making masks a "symbol or red or blue."
-Fall is a "new phase of viral attack," Cuomo says. He notes that schools are reopening, students are returning to college, and it's getting colder. "Now you're seeing the numbers go up all across the country," Cuomo says, noting that "scientists predicted" that the numbers would go up in the fall.
-"You can't play 'catch up' with a virus," Cuomo quotes, and he says New York wants to "look ahead and stay ahead."
-For the fall, Cuomo says NY will deploy a "micro-cluster strategy." Up until now, NY has been taking action statewide or on a regional level. "That worked fine and frankly it was our only option," Cuomo says, but adds, "we now have more sophistication." So instead of a state, regional or county level, he says NY will be analyzing on a "block by block level." He says the state has data that is so specific that can show "exactly where the cases are coming from."
-The red, orange and yellow zones that the state has been using over the past few days are how the state will proceed moving forward to target clusters emerging.
-The aim is to have more targeted response, with more testing and less wider disruption to the community at large, the governor says.
-The keys to the micro-cluster strategy are having refined detection, specific mitigation to address why cases are emerging in a specific area, and then enforcement. Cuomo says almost by definition, clusters are emerging because of a lack of compliance and enforcement.
-The only answer to a lack of compliance is enforcement, Cuomo says. He says more restrictive targeting is working, and he cites a cluster in Queens as an example, noting that infection rate has decreased.
-Cuomo says NY's strategy is working and notes that cases are low compared to spikes in other states. He says the statewide positivity rate is at 1.11%, where it has been for about the past 2 weeks.
-Cuomo says the red zone infection rate is lower than 34 states' overall rates in this past week.
-Cuomo says NY hit a record number of tests with about 160,000 in one day. There were statewide 9 deaths yesterday. 
-Beginning Oct. 23, Cuomo says movie theaters outside NYC will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity, with up to 50 people per screen.
-Other restrictions apply, and movie theaters in areas with clusters cannot reopen. Masks must be worn, and assigned seating will be required.
-The governor notes that as the leader of the National Governors Association, he penned a letter to the Trump administration saying that governors are willing to assist the administration's efforts to ensure a national vaccination campaign is 'implemented smoothly and efficiently' and requested a meeting with federal officials to discuss what's needed 'to ensure a strong partnership.' 
-Cuomo says a Section 16 order signed by the health commissioner was served to prevent a planned wedding in Williambsurg that an investigation revealed could have upwards of 10,000 people attend. The location was outside of the cluster zone but the order was served to prevent the wedding from happening, Cuomo and his aides said. The order was served in conjunction with the NYC sheriffs department. 

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