On June 6, he permitted religious gatherings under Phase Two, but restricted them to 25 percent capacity, half that of stores and barbershops. At the same time, Cuomo and de Blasio have encouraged the mass protests sweeping New York in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Answering a question about whether protests should be discouraged, Cuomo said, “No, I think you can protest…you can do many things now as long as you’re smart about it.”
New York may no longer restrict religious gatherings to 25 percent capacity while other businesses can operate at 50 percent, according to a preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge on Friday. U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe ruled that New York could not limit socially-distanced, outdoor religious services while it allowed outdoor graduation ceremonies in excess of 100 people.
Sharpe barred New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James, and NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio from enforcing any restrictions on houses of worship that are greater than restrictions on Phase Two businesses. Businesses on the Phase Two list, including barbershops, retail stores, and professional services, may operate at 50 percent capacity if they are social distancing. Houses of worship under Phase Two, however, were limited to 25 percent capacity by Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.38, in an apparently arbitrary restriction on religious freedom.