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New York Capital Brief: November 12, 2020

Cuomo Announces New Statewide Restrictions

On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo announced new statewide COVID-19 restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms, and residential gatherings in New York State.

Effective November 13th at 10pm, any establishment licensed by the State Liquor Authority, including restaurants, bars, and bowling alleys, must close their dining areas at 10pm. Gyms are also required to close at 10pm. In addition, indoor/outdoor social gatherings will be capped at 10 people. These public health measures will bring New York State in alignment with neighboring states including Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

Several Counties Begin Counting Mail-In Ballots

Several New York counties began counting their share of the record-breaking 1.5 million mail-in ballots on Tuesday, which will determine the outcome of several too-close-to-call legislative and congressional races in areas of New York City and Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties.

Senate Democrats, who hold 40 of the 63 seats, hoped to flip a minimum of two Republican-held seats to gain a supermajority, which would complement the Democratic supermajority in the Assembly. At this point, unofficial in-person results show Senate Republicans leading in several races; however, State-wide the number of ballots returned by Democrats far exceed those of Republicans.

Senator Gianaris Introduces Absentee Ballot Counting Bill

On Tuesday, Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris (D-Queens) announced his new bill to allow election officials to begin tallying mail-in ballots on Election Day instead of a week later.

“There is no good excuse for election results to continue to be up in the air weeks and months after people have already cast their votes,” Gianaris said.

Cuomo Comments on COVID Vaccine Announcement

Shortly after Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their jointly-created COVID vaccine is more than 90% effective, Governor Cuomo said that the announcement is both “good news and bad news.”

“The good news is that the Pfizer tests look good and we’ll have a vaccine shortly. The bad news is that it’s about two months before Joe Biden takes over, and that means this administration is going to be implementing a vaccine plan,” said Governor Cuomo during his interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

In preparation for the federally approved vaccine, Governor Cuomo has appointed a medical review board that will be headed-up by SUNY Upstate Medical’s Dr. Stephen Thomas to vet the vaccine before recommending and distributing the drug to millions of New Yorkers.

NY’s Travel Advisory Update

Under Executive Order, New York has shifted to a COVID testing requirement for those entering NY from other states and from countries at Level 2 and 3 COVID-risk.

According to the Order, instead of a mandatory 14-day quarantine, all people* entering NY will have to bring proof of a negative COVID test. The results must be from a test taken within three days of coming into NY from a non-contiguous state.** Upon arrival, all travelers must quarantine for three days. On the fourth day, the traveler must get another test. Once the second test comes back negative, the person is no longer required to quarantine.

*Essential workers will continue to be exempt from this mandate.
**These new rules do not apply to PA, NJ, VA, MA, or CT, although non-essential travel is highly discouraged.