New York eases restrictions, allowing gatherings of up to 10 people

New York will begin allowing gatherings of up to 10 people after a civil rights group challenged the ban with a lawsuit. 

New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoDavid Sirota criticizes Cuomo's for legislation protecting NY nursing homes from coronavirus lawsuits Cuomo responds to Trump: 'Here in New York we actually read the Bible' NYPD chief demands public apology from Cuomo for saying police 'did not do their job' MORE (D) signed an executive order Friday reversing the previous ban, allowing the gatherings to take place so long as proper social distancing is practiced. The prohibition on the gatherings first took place on March 23 to try to blunt the spread of the coronavirus in New York City, which has emerged as the epicenter for the U.S. outbreak. 

Gatherings will be allowed for birthday parties, barbecues and any other nonessential gathering for “any lawful purpose or reason.” The move comes a day after Cuomo eased restrictions on religious ceremonies and Memorial Day celebrations. 

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed the lawsuit Friday against the order barring the gatherings on behalf of a woman who was arrested twice outside New York City Hall demonstrating against the Empire State’s economic shutdown.

"We're glad to see the governor reverse course on his executive order from last night," Chris Dunn, the NYCLU's legal director and lead attorney, said in a statement to the Democrat & Chronicle. "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."