KEY POINTS

  • Starting Saturday night, only essential businesses will remain open in New York
  • Businesses that don't comply will likely face civil fines
  • New York City Mayor de Blasio has called for the military to be deployed

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state would effectively be shut down beginning Saturday night, meaning only essential services will remain open while most residents will be asked to self-isolate. “We’re going to take it to the ultimate step. We’re going to close the valve” to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Cuomo said.

Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have also announced similar plans to partially shut down in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo said that only essential businesses will be allowed to have workers come in. This includes pharmacies, utility businesses, grocery stores, banks, restaurants for delivery and public transportation. The new measures will go into effect at 8pm Saturday.

The initiative, dubbed PAUSE, calls for New York residents to stay home, but Cuomo was quick to clarify that it was not an order to “shelter in place.” While he said that individuals would not face legal consequences for violating the order, businesses which fail to comply will likely face civil fines in the future.

The orders will be most strictly enforced against those most vulnerable to the coronavirus – those over 70 years of age and those with compromised immune systems – who are advised not only to remain indoors, but to avoid interactions without use of a face mask.

“We have to do it. Everyone has personal liberty,” Cuomo said. “But everyone has a responsibility to everyone else.”

Others are asked to not participate in group gatherings and to maintain a six-foot distance from other people. Those who are sick in any way are required to stay home.

On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called on President Donald Trump to authorize the military to assist in the hard-hit city. “I want their medical teams, which are first-rate, I want their logistical support, I want their ability to get stuff from factories all over the country where they're needed most,” de Blasio said.

The mayor criticized the president, who he said had “sidelined” the military by not deploying them to “the front.”

There are currently 4,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the city alone.

In a press conference on Friday, Trump said that he had participated with a teleconference with nearly every governor in the country. The president said that he supported the new measures being taken in New York and elsewhere and was confident in their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo New York State governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at a rally in New York July 22, 2015. Photo: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid