In the face of lawsuits to protect our right to assemble, Gov. Andrew Cuomo dropped his absolute ban and issued a statewide executive order now allowing any gathering of up to 10 people
In Cuomo’s words people are now allowed for “any non-essential gathering of ten or fewer individuals, for any lawful purpose or reason, provided that social distancing protocols and cleaning and disinfection protocols required by the Department of Health are adhered to.”
Earlier the Governor had allowed groups of up to 10 to practice their religion or honor veterans. That was a nearly immediate response to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit challenging Cuomo’s prior ban. The organization believes the Constitution protects the same rights people gathering for other reasons.
The NYCLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of New York City resident Linda Bouferguen, who the group says was twice arrested outside City Hall for protesting the state’s shutdown. She wants to organize another protest Saturday.
NYCLU Legal Director Christopher Dunn said in a statement that the organization was “glad to see the governor reverse course.”
“The right to protest and exercise free speech is the foundation of all our other liberties, and during a crisis is exactly when we need to be most vigilant about protecting it. Health experts, elected officials, and police officers all agree that people can be outside safely while practicing social distancing, and it’s critical that lawmakers create guidelines and direct law enforcement uniformly,” Dunn said.