New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a state ban on most large public gatherings of over 500 people as New York works to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The move will see the entirety of Broadway and most of New York City’s concert venues shut down, as well as numerous other businesses, including meeting spaces, museums, sports games, and other locations.
Broadway theaters will be shut down starting at 5PM ET today, while other venues and gatherings will see the ban take place on Friday at 5PM ET. For locations that have maximum occupancies of 500 people or fewer, the state will be cutting their legal capacity by half in an effort to reduce large groups of people gathering together in one place.
There will be “a range of penalties” for businesses that aren’t adhering to the ban, including fines and potential shutdowns for those that do not comply. As of now, Governor Cuomo says the ban will be in place “for the foreseeable future until things change.” “As soon as we can go back to normal we’ll go back to normal,” he added, noting that “this is only going to get much worse before it gets better.”
The ban is specifically for “congregate spaces” that have an occupancy of 500 people or more, meaning that places with more divided areas — like office buildings or movie theaters — won’t be affected by the limits.
Governor Cuomo’s announcement doesn’t include things like New York City’s subway and bus public transit systems, the New York public school system, hospitals, or nursing homes, all of which will remain open for now.
The closing of Broadway theaters in particular will have a massive negative economic effect on the city, with the shows representing some of New York City’s biggest tourist attractions and an annual gross of almost $2 billion. (Tourists are estimated to make up nearly two-thirds of Broadway audiences.) The Broadway League — the national trade association for the Broadway industry — has said that theaters will be shut down through April 12th, per The New York Times.
In addition to the specific ban on gatherings, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced a state of emergency for the city, noting that large venues like the Barclays Center, Madison Square Garden, and Radio City Music Hall could be shut down for months.
During the announcement of the ban, Governor Cuomo gave updated numbers on the outbreak in New York state, which now has 328 cases of the coronavirus — 112 of those cases having been discovered overnight. Globally, there have been over 130,000 confirmed cases, with more than 4,700 people who have died from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
Update March 12th, 4:20pm ET: Added note that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared a state of emergency in NYC.