Federal Court Rejects New York Gov. Cuomo’s Capacity Restrictions on Houses of Worship
The decision marks a return to the 50% capacity cap that was in place before Cuomo introduced limits based on the severity of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in the vicinity.
Tuesday’s ruling closes a new chapter in the lengthy legal saga triggered by the executive orders restricting the number of worshipers at locations in areas with increased morbidity.
The order of October 2020, which capped the capacity at 25%, but up to 10 worshippers; and 33%, or up to 25 people respectively for “red” and “orange” areas, was contested by both Jewish and Catholic communities.
In November, the US Supreme Court sided with the plaintiffs and slapped an emergency injunction on the order, arguing that the order limited religious gatherings while deeming outlets like liquor stores essential and not restricting their operations.
In December, following a review initiated by the Supreme Court, an appeals court deemed a previous ruling that allowed the restrictions as violating New Yorkers’ religious rights.
The court also tasked the Brooklyn District Court with a new review of the restrictions, asking it to establish whether those were necessary, which resulted in Tuesday’s ruling.