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June 29, 2020 10:09 am

New York Federal Judge Blocks COVID Restrictions on Prayer, Religious Gatherings

avatar by Faygie Holt /

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in front of stacks of medical protective supplies during a news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, New York, amid the coronavirus outbreak, March 24, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mike Segar / File. – A federal judge expressed concerns on Friday that New York governmental leaders violated the rights of residents to when it sought limited the number of individuals who could gather for prayer services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Judge Gary L. Sharpe of the US District Court, Northern District of New York issued a preliminary injunction against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, preventing them from enforcing any limitations on outside gatherings for religious services, even in the midst of COVID-19, which ran rampant in the state and especially affected Jewish communities early on.

In terms of indoor assembly, the judge said that houses of worship can have the same number people as imposed on other industries in Phase 2 of New York’s reopening plan, which means that in the five boroughs, houses of worship can now have up to 50 percent capacity. Previously, they were limited to 25 percent capacity.

The judge made clear, however, that parishioners will still need to observe social-distancing regulations set out by both the city and the state.

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