(JTA) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that houses of worship in most of the state can reopen on a limited scale.
Cuomo issued an executive order on Saturday permitting the opening of houses of worship in areas designated as phase two of the state reopening plan, which includes all of the state except for New York City. The buildings will be required to operate at 25 percent of their usual capacity and employ appropriate social distancing and disinfecting protocols.
“We’re going to open the valve more than we originally anticipated because the metrics are so good,” Cuomo said during his daily briefing.
On Friday, 35 people in New York died with the COVID-19 virus, down from a high of 800 some eight weeks ago.
Reopening houses of worship had originally been slated for stage four or reopening. Some have called for a quicker reopening, noting that protests now unfolding against racism and police brutality have gathered thousands of demonstrators who are not social distancing.
About two weeks ago, the governor allowed services to resume with 10 worshippers or less, and strongly advised that the services be held out of doors.