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New York's 50-person wedding rule successfully challenged

Brian Turner

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled in favor of two couples who sued for the right to have more than 50 people at their weddings in western New York, despite the state’s pandemic-related restrictions.

U.S. District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby issued the preliminary injunction Friday in a case involving couples who had booked weddings at Arrowhead Golf Club in Akron. The ruling allows the venue to operate under the same 50% capacity rule as restaurants serving dinner indoors.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office has not released guidance specific to weddings, but has said they are subject to the state’s limit of 50 people at all gatherings.

The injunction allowed the couples to wed at that venue, but was seen as having broader implications. In Syracuse, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said during a briefing Monday that he interprets the federal ruling to mean that wedding receptions can now be larger than 50 people in his county.

Cuomo spokesperson Caitlin Girouard, called the decision “irresponsible” and said the administration was exploring legal remedies.

“The judge’s decision is irresponsible at best, as it would allow for large, nonessential gatherings that endanger public health,” Girouard said.

The couples argued that religious ceremonies should not be treated differently than gatherings for demonstrations, graduation ceremonies and restaurants.