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Cuomo says no to martial law, yes to business restrictions


ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo tightened work-from-home rules Thursday as confirmed cases continued to climb in New York, an expected jump as testing becomes more widespread. But he stressed that roadblocks and martial law for New York City were merely rumors.


New York has confirmed more than 4,000 cases statewide, a number that Cuomo said was driven by a dramatic increase in testing. New York has cumulatively tested 22,000 people, including more than 7,500 in the past day.

“Why are you seeing the numbers go up?” Cuomo asked at a news conference. “Because you are taking more tests.”

Cuomo has said he expects the number of confirmed cases to go up exponentially.

COVID-19 causes mild symptoms in most people but can cause serious illness for some, including older adults and those with certain conditions such as respiratory illness. Most people recover.


Cuomo is requiring businesses in New York to decrease their in-office workforce by 75%, tightening a 50% restriction he announced Wednesday.

“That means 75% of the workforce must stay at home, and work from home,” he said.

He said Wednesday that an executive order will exempt businesses providing essential services, including media, warehouses, grocery and food production facilities, pharmacies, health care providers, utilities and banks, and other industries critical to the supply chain.


Cuomo said Thursday that he is not going to impose martial law as he sought to quell what he said was panic over the possibility that New York City would be locked down to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“Somehow, people have the idea that New York City may be quarantined, may be locked off, that they may be imprisoned in their own home. I don’t know where they get it,” Cuomo said. “None of that is going to happen. There is no quarantine plan in New York City.”

Shelter-in-place rules in effect in the San Francisco Bay Area since Tuesday allow people to leave their homes for essential tasks like picking up groceries or medicine. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday he was considering imposing such rules in the city, which has recorded at least 11 deaths from COVID-19.

Cuomo said the current restrictions in New York — which include targeted business shutdowns and work-from-home rules — are “virtually identical” to San Francisco. But without the ominous language.

“‘Shelter in place’ is a scary term for people, especially when they don’t know what it means, and especially when you’re not doing what it means,” he said.