Cuomo says theaters outside NYC may reopen Oct. 23, announces 'micro-cluster strategy' for state until vaccine available

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that movie theaters in some areas outside of New York City can reopen Oct. 23 as he announced a “micro-cluster strategy” for the state until a vaccine is available.

The governor said the theaters can reopen at 25% capacity, or with up to 50 people maximum per screen, in areas outside of the city that are below a 2% positivity rate on their 14-day average and have no cluster zones.

Long Island and Westchester currently meet the requirements, while New York City and Rockland and Orange counties do not, Cuomo said.

State guidance on the reopening of theaters includes the following conditions:
• Masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.
• Assigned seating will be required in all theaters.
• Social distancing between parties will be required at all times.
• Additional staffing will be required to control occupancy, traffic and seating to ensure compliance.
• Enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards must be met by theaters.

Cuomo also announced that the state will begin a “micro-cluster strategy,” targeting the spread of the coronavirus “block by block” into the fall and winter months.

“We are going to deploy what we call a micro-cluster strategy,” Cuomo said.

The governor said that up to this point the state has been targeting all its actions on a much broader level, such as by state and region, but now has the ability to hone in on where the virus is spreading.

“So rather than looking at it on a state level or a regional level or even a county level or even a neighborhood level, we are now going to analyze it on the block by block level,” Cuomo said. “We have data that is so specific that we can’t show it because it would violate privacy conditions.”

Cuomo said the “micro-cluster” approach requires more targeted testing and mitigation measures tailored for specific localities. He said the benefit is that it requires less disruption for other areas that have lower positivity rates.

“If you have a problem in Kew Gardens, Queens, then why affect activity in the rest of Queens, let alone Brooklyn, the Bronx, etcetera?” Cuomo said.

He said the approach will “continue through the vaccine, because this is not over until the vaccine.”

Cuomo said the red zone areas are at a 4.3% infection rate, while the statewide infection rate without the red zones is 1.02%. Overall the state is at 1.1%.

The governor also announced that a record number of tests were conducted on Friday—160,000.