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New York joins others in banning mass gatherings amid coronavirus

New York joins others in banning mass gatherings amid coronavirus
A woman approaches the New York Stock Exchange in a moment where pedestrians are scarce after the opening bell on Wall Street in New York City on Thursday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

March 12 (UPI) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday a statewide ban on gatherings of more than 500 people, joining other states that are banning large gatherings amid rising coronavirus spread.

Cuomo announced the restrictions hours after cultural institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum, the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall, said they would suspend visits and performances.

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The restrictions are expected to be a blow to the city's tourism industry, particularly on Broadway, where all 41 theaters have at least 500 seats and most have more than 1,000.

All Broadway theaters are suspending performances through April 12, the Broadway League said in a statement.

RELATED California, Oregon ban gatherings of more than 250 people

The state's St. Patrick's Day Parade will also be postponed until a later date, organizers said.

Gatherings in venues that hold fewer than 500 people will still be permitted, but they would be required to reduce occupancy by half, under the state's new guidance.

Schools, hospitals, nursing homes and public transit will be exempt from the ban, which goes into effect 5 p.m. Thursday for Broadway theaters and on Friday at 5 p.m. for other venues, Cuomo said.

RELATED COVID-19: Washington Gov. Inslee bans all gatherings over 250 people

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said two schools located in the same building in the Bronx -- the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology and South Bronx Preparatory -- have been closed for a 24-hour period for disinfection after a student's parents told officials their child tested positive for the coronavirus.

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Cuomo said at an earlier briefing that the City University of New York and State University of New York will move to a distance model beginning March 19 for the remainder of the spring semester.

Other states have made similar moves.

RELATED CDC official: Coronavirus response shifting to state, local agencies

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency on Thursday saying it would allow increased flexibility in its response to the virus.

"Our top priority is to make sure Virginians stay safe and healthy and that our response to this situation leaves no one behind," Northam said. "From our health department, to our schools to our hospitals, to our transit systems, Virginia's agencies and institutions have been thoroughly planning for every scenario. This emergency declaration will ensure we can continue to prepare for and appropriately respond to Virginians' needs during this time."

In Washington, D.C., Congress' visitor center said it will not allow visitors to the Capitol until April and the Supreme Court building will close until further notice.

The Capitol will close to visitors at the end of the day Thursday and will not reopen until April 1, as the government moves to combat the coronavirus. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
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California and Oregon announced that they would ban public gatherings of more than 250 people.

Disney announced that it will close its Disneyland and California Adventure parks in California and Walt Disney World in Florida as well as suspend operation of its Disney Cruiseline through the end of the month.

Disneyland will close beginning Friday morning, new departures for Disney cruises will end on Saturday and Disney World will close at the end of business on Sunday.

Disneyland's resort hotels will remain open until Monday to allow guests to make necessary arrangements and the Downtown Disney shopping area will remain open, while Disney World hotels will remain open until further notice. The company added that employees will continue to be paid during this period.

Universal Orlando Resort also announced it will close its parks at least through the end of March beginning on Sunday while its hotels and City Walk shopping area will remain open.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday banned all gatherings of more than 250 people in three counties at the epicenter of the coronavirus spread in the United States.

Of the United States's confirmed cases, California has 177, Oregon has 21 cases and Washington State has 366 infections, according to data from individual health departments.

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