NEW YORK - Late this afternoon Governor Cuomo issued an executive order permitting any non-essential gathering of ten or fewer people provided that social distancing and other Department of Health guidelines are followed. This order modified a previous order issued just last night lifting social distancing guidelines for only selected activities. The order from last night was the subject of an NYCLU lawsuit filed early this morning challenging it as an unconstitutional ban on First Amendment activity. In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from Legal Director and lead attorney on the case, Christopher Dunn:
"We're glad to see the governor reverse course on his executive order from last night. 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. Health experts, elected officials, and police officers all agree that people can be outside safely while practicing social distancing, and it's critical that lawmakers create guidelines and direct law enforcement uniformly.
New Yorkers have met this crisis with solidarity and resilience, and placed immense trust in the government to exercise its authority and keep them safe. To maintain that trust, the government must take that responsibility seriously and treat all New Yorkers equally as we look to the months ahead."