Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday extended his statewide ban on going to non-essential workplaces through April 29.
During a press conference in Albany, the governor said his March 22 order, which forced non-essential businesses to halt in-office operations, will remain necessary for at least two additional weeks to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Since the ban took effect, the definition of what is considered essential has changed dramatically. Construction was initially exempt from the order, but the state subsequently stipulated that only work on affordable housing, healthcare facilities, utilities and transit projects — as well as emergency work — may continue. Last week, the state deemed real estate brokers essential, then clarified that property showings must be conducted virtually.
The shutdown has already led to furloughs and layoffs at the city’s largest brokerages. Some retailers have notified their landlords that they can’t afford to pay rent for the foreseeable future.
Cuomo also announced Monday that the state will double the maximum fine for violations of social distancing rules to $1,000. He reported that 122,031 people in the state have tested positive for Covid-19 and 4,758 have died.
At his own press conference Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that because of the surge in deaths in recent days, bodies might be buried in temporary graves until further arrangements are made. Council member Mark Levine, a Manhattan Democrat, tweeted that a city park would be used and caskets placed in trenches 10 in a line, but de Blasio did not confirm that.
“We may well be dealing with temporary burials so we can then deal with each family later. But again, I’m just not going to detail,” the mayor said.
Pressed for specifics, he added, “It is what it says. If we need to do temporary burials to be able to tide us over to pass the crisis and then work with each family on their appropriate arrangements, we have the ability to do that.” A mayoral spokesperson later tweeted that Hart Island is being considered, but not city parks.
Write to Kathryn Brenzel at [email protected]