ITHACA, N.Y. –– Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday night that he would lift the ban on non-essential gatherings, issuing an executive order saying groups of 10 or less can gather provided they wear proper PPE and stay 6 feet apart.

Additionally “cleaning and disinfection protocols” required by the state Department of Health must be adhered to for any gatherings.

Earlier this week, the governor had announced that gatherings of 10 or less would be allowed for the purpose of religious service, or small Memorial Day ceremonies. That action spurred a lawsuit from the New York Civil Liberties Union, which argued that if it was safe to gather to honor veterans and practice religion, it would be unconstitutional to not allow gatherings of the same size for other reasons.

It is unclear if the new directive is a direct result of the lawsuit.

Local health officials warn that the executive order is not a green light to go back to normal, and the public should continue exercising caution when gathering.

“The public is urged to continue to stay vigilant, and if you choose to gather in a group of 10 or less, please do so safely and with caution,” Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa said. “Thanks to the efforts of County residents staying home and following local and State guidance, the spread of COVID-19 has been slowed and lives have been saved.”

As a reminder for those who choose to gather, good social distancing and safety protocol includes keeping 6 feet of distance between you and others, wearing your face covering, and washing your hands frequently with soap and water.

Recreation should be limited to non-contact activities, and non-team activities. Do not start or take part in activities that put you in close contact with people. If you see close contact activities, ask those involved to stop. And after being outside, wash your hands well and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Photo courtesy of Jo Zimny on Flickr. 

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com