New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that religious services would be permitted to resume in the state on condition that strict restrictions on numbers and social distancing were observed.
Religious gatherings in the city were suspended in March as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
As of Thursday, May 21, services can once again take place so long as attendees wear protective masks and observe social-distancing guidelines. Critically, no more than 10 people — the minimum required for a “minyan” under Jewish law — will be allowed to attend at one time. Religious institutions will be permitted to have drive-in services in parking lots.
Cuomo emphasized that the resumption of religious services would have to be matched with appropriate caution.
“The last thing we want to do is have a religious ceremony that winds up having more people infected,” Cuomo said. “We know from New Rochelle, Westchester, the first hot spot, that religious ceremonies can be very dangerous.”
A synagogue in New Rochelle was the epicenter of a cluster of coronavirus cases in March.
More than 350,000 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in New York during the pandemic, with the death toll in the state approaching 23,000.