All public gatherings of 500 people or more are banned in New York starting Friday, and Broadway shows are effectively shut down as of Thursday evening, under a directive from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo said the aim is to reduce population density to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. State health officials reported 109 new cases Thursday, for a total of 325.
The governor said the predicted spread of COVID-19 is a public health emergency, and so he has to take “dramatic” steps.
“To reduce the number of people in contagious environments,” Cuomo said.
The ban effectively shuts down Broadway shows, and other large performance venues, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, which announced on its website that all performances are canceled immediately, through March 31.
Venues with fewer than 500 seats must halve their capacity, effective Friday.
The governor said he is also trying to prepare for a potential increased need for hospital beds, and is asking former health care workers to contact their employers to get reinstated in case they are needed.
Cuomo said he is considering canceling elective surgeries to free up beds, but hasn’t made that decision yet.
There are also new rules for nursing homes. Staff must wear masks and be checked daily for symptoms. All visitors are barred from entry, unless the patient is extremely ill and needs to see family.