COVID-19

Houses of worship can reopen to 25% occupancy in Phase 2

Houses of Worship, closed to the public since late March due to COVID-19, can reopen when Long Island reaches Phase 2 of its reopening next week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday.

The governor said occupancy at churches, temples and mosques will be limited to 25% of what it normally would be. They had been slated for Phase 3.

“This is an acceleration for us because we’re doing so well with the virus,” Mr. Cuomo said. “But stay smart.”

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Long Island is expected to move to Phase II on Wednesday. Earlier this week, the governor announced that outdoor dining would also be added to Phase II of the reopening.

The governor noted that houses of worship may opt to schedule more services than usual in order to meet the needs of more individuals.

Most religious services have been held virtually since the coronavirus led to a shutdown of public gatherings.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Saturday that it’s “the right time” to open back up, a reference to unrest in the country in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis, which he continued to address in his daily media briefing Saturday.

“It is a good time, an important time for our faith-based communities … to open back up and for people to go back and practice their faith,” the county executive said.

Saturday’s announcement came on a day in which the governor announced New York had just 35 deaths in the past 24 hours, the lowest single-day total in more than two months.

New York City, the last region in the state to reopen, is expected to reach Phase 1 this week. All other regions will likely be in Phase 2 by Wednesday.