A screenshot of Governor Cuomo's press conference announcing new restrictions on Friday, March 20, 2020.

New York State's "Stay at home" order is called PAUSE.

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New York State's "Stay at home" order is called PAUSE.
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On Friday morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that in order to shut the "valve" of new COVID-19 cases that threaten to overwhelm the state's health care system, he is placing New York State on "PAUSE," an acronym that intends to keep as many New Yorkers as possible in their homes and away from each other.

PAUSE stands for Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone. According to the governor, 100 percent of non-essential workers must stay home, and non-essential businesses must close. This is up from 75 percent of the workforce that Cuomo ordered home on Thursday.

"This is the most drastic action we can take," Cuomo told reporters.

The most stringent rules are for New Yorkers age 70 or older: they must remain at home except for solitary exercise, wear masks in the presence of others, and check the temperatures of any essential visitors and aides. All other contact is prohibited. Cuomo called it "Matilda's Law," for his own 88-year-old mother.

For the less vulnerable population, similar rules are in place. Any non-essential gatherings are prohibited, New Yorkers must remain 6-feet from one another when leaving the apartment for essentials like food and medicine, and sick New Yorkers should remain at home unless they need urgent medical attention.

Only solitary exercise is permissible, the governor said.

"There are people and places in New York City that look like life as usual, no this is not life as usual, and accept it and realize it and deal with it," Cuomo said.

A screenshot of Governor Cuomo's press conference announcing new restrictions on Friday, March 20, 2020.

What NYS on PAUSE means for everyone under 70.

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What NYS on PAUSE means for everyone under 70.
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"These are not helpful hints," the governor stressed. "These are legal provisions, they will be enforced, there will be a civil fine and mandatory closure for any business that's not in compliance." Cuomo declined to discuss penalties for individuals, but said that violators would be addressed.

"Again, your actions can affect my health, that's where we are. There is a social compact we have, government makes sure society is safe for everyone."

While the governor said his administration is still determining exactly what is or isn't an "essential business," healthcare workers, law enforcement, firefighters, transit workers, grocery workers, restaurant workers producing food for delivery and take out, delivery workers, child care workers, utility workers, auto repair workers, hardware store employees, and yes, liquor store employees, are considered essential (a full list from an executive order signed earlier this week can be seen here). Mass transit will stay running to serve these essential workers.

New York State on PAUSE takes effect 8 p.m. Sunday night. "This all comes down to the healthcare system and we're scrambling to increase the capacity of the healthcare system," the governor said.

A screenshot of Governor Cuomo's press conference announcing new restrictions on Friday, March 20, 2020.

Restrictions for New Yorkers over 70 Cuomo called "Matilda's Law," after his 88-year-old mother.

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Restrictions for New Yorkers over 70 Cuomo called "Matilda's Law," after his 88-year-old mother.
Screenshot

Cuomo's announcement comes after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had been asking the governor for days to install a "shelter in place" rule like the one instituted in San Francisco.

And for days, Cuomo resisted using that language, even if all prudent policy decisions seemed to be headed in that direction. New York on PAUSE looks an awful lot like California's model, and a reporter at Friday's press conference pointed that out.

"It is not a shelter in place order," Cuomo said. "First of all, words matter, California does not have a shelter in place order, they put in a new policy, it is not shelter in place. This is why words matter, because people are scared and people panic. Shelter in place is used currently for an active shooter or a school shooting."

(In fact, San Francisco's order was "shelter in place" and has since been adopted by California to "stay at home.")

The Mayor's Office has not yet responded to our request for comment.

Before the press conference was over, Cuomo also said he was suspending all evictions, statewide, for 90 days, and that he was directing internet service providers to lift data caps at no cost to customers.

"This is a statewide order, it's not what your county executive is doing, it's not what your mayor is doing, its not what anyone else but me is doing," Cuomo said of PAUSE. "I accept full responsibility."

He added, "I want to be able to look back and say to the people of New York, 'I did everything we could do.'"

When more details on PAUSE get released, we'll publish them.