Coronavirus update: Restaurants, bars, and gyms to close in NY at 8 p.m.

Goshen. Eateries will be allowed to provide take-out and delivery services. In other local news related to the coronavirus pandemic: Chester closes its town and village halls, Orange County extends emergency declaration, Department of Motor Vehicles moves to appointment-only system, and other developments.

16 Mar 2020 | 01:47

Monday, March 16

Three states shut down

New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will limit crowd capacity for recreational and social gatherings to 50 people effective by 8 p.m. tonight, according to a press release issued Monday by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy:

● Restaurants and bars will close for on-premise service and move to take-out and delivery only effective at 8 p.m. Restaurants and bars will be provided a waiver for carry-out alcohol.

● Movie theaters, gyms, and casinos will temporarily close effective at 8 p.m.

Murphy said he and the two other governors, Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Ned Lamont of Connecticut, are taking these actions to slow the spread of coronavirus "amid a lack of federal direction and nationwide standards."

"With all we are seeing in our state -- and across our nation and around the world -- the time for us to take our strongest, and most direct, actions to date to slow the spread of coronavirus is now," Murphy said.

Cuomo said their primary goal right now "is to slow the spread of this virus so that the wave of new infections doesn't crash our healthcare system, and everyone agrees social distancing is the best way to do that."

He said New York is partnering with neighboring states "to implement a uniform standard that not only keeps our people safe but also prevents 'state shopping' where residents of one state travel to another and vice versa. I have called on the federal government to implement nationwide protocols, but in their absence we are taking this on ourselves."

Grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and some other essential businesses will be allowed to remain open.

The governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are also calling on citizens to stay off the roads and refrain from non-essential travel after 8 p.m. until further notice, Murphy said Monday. This is not a curfew, he said.

Murphy said he talked to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday and said Pennsylvania will "closely mirror" the measures taken in the other three states.

Also on Monday, President Donald Trump and his coronavirus task force issued new guidelines calling on Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

Chester closes offices

The town and village of Chester have closed their offices to the public starting Monday, March 16, until further notice.

Village Mayor John Thomas Bell says the closure is part of an emergency response plan established by the village board of trustees and department heads "to prepare for the coronavirus in our community for the safety of its employees and their constituents."

Employees in the village clerk’s, building, planning, zoning, and court offices will be reporting to work in order to conduct business. Their staff may be reached by email (clerk@villageofchesterny.com) or phone (845-469-2388)

Other parts of the village's plan include:

● All planning and zoning board meetings will be postponed.

● Traffic court appearances scheduled for March 23 and March 30 will be rescheduled by mail.

For updates, visit the village's website at villageofchesterny.org.

In the town of Chester, Supervisor Robert Valentine said inquiries should be directed to 845-469-7000.

The town board will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, at town hall, 1786 Kings Highway, Chester, to discuss an emergency response in preparation for the pandemic.

DMV switches to appointments only

The Department of Motor Vehicles will be switching to an appointments-only system beginning March 17 until further notice

The following services will be available by appointment only:

● Commercial driver license Permit

● License renewal that will expire within the month

● No original or upgrade to Real Id/ EDL until further notice

● Renewing a registration expiring with the month

● Dealer – Orange County only

● Orange County residents only

The Port Jervis DMV location will be closed until further office.

Call the following offices to schedule your appointments:

● Goshen – 845-615-3960

● Newburgh – 845-568-5230

● Middletown – 845-346-1180

Sunday, March 15

State of emergency extended

Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus announced on Sunday that he has extended the state of emergency in the county for 30 days from March 15. As of Sunday, Orange County has seven positive COVID-19 cases.

The state of emergency authorizes the county executive to take certain actions. On Sunday Neuhaus ordered the following:

● All school classroom and extracurricular activities, public and private, in Orange County will be closed through March 27.

● All nursing homes and long-term care centers are closed to visitors, except for those families dealing with end of life.

● All meetings and activities for people over 60 will be restricted, canceled, or postponed.

The state of emergency also expands purchasing power for key responding county departments.

Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman says anyone who feels ill should call their health care provider first. Do not go directly to the doctor’s office, an emergency room, or other healthcare facilities, she said. She urges residents to stay safe by practicing good hygiene.

If you are an Orange County resident and have recently traveled outside the U.S. and have questions regarding COVID-19, call the Orange County Department of Health at 845-291-2330. The New York State Department of Health's 24-hour coronavirus hotline is 1-888-364-3065.

Assistance for small businesses

NYS Assemblyman Schmitt announced on Sunday that "numerous small businesses have reached out regarding the negative economic impacts they are experiencing. I have urged the Governor to expedite plans for small business assistance from state and federal programs and will update as final procedures for this assistance are put in place. I will work with any local business who will need help navigating the state or federal process for this assistance."

He said his district office in Washingtonville "underwent a deep cleaning this weekend. For those who need assistance but prefer to avoid public places at this time you can email schmittc@nyassembly.gov or call 845-469-6929 for assistance. I will be returning to Albany on Monday to work on additional legislative responses to this outbreak and also strive to complete the state budget in a timely fashion. I have already passed a $40 million emergency appropriation to respond to the coronavirus outbreak."

Advocates condemn anti-Asian misinformation

Asian Pacific American Advocates in Westchester & Hudson Valley released a statement Sunday condemning "the anti-Asian and anti-Chinese sentiments and misleading information about the coronavirus in talks recently given by Dr. Harish Moorjani in the name of public education and medical information....Dr. Moorjani’s false narrative about Chinese culture will lead to harmful stereotyping; his reckless comments about Asian communities will result in unwarranted discrimination towards Asian American groups....During this public health crisis, we need factual information and clear guidance to keep people and their families healthy and safe, not racially prejudiced statements that could divide communities. Scapegoating and complacency are never the answer in the time of a pandemic."

Friday, March 13

Practice good trail hygiene

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy urged hikers on Friday to distance themselves from others and maintain good hygiene: "Avoid sharing food. Do not eat out of the same food bag, share utensils or drink from other hikers’ water bottles....Avoid congregating in groups along the Trail....If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 while on the A.T., please submit an incident report at appalachiantrail.org/incidents detailing when you got sick, when and where you got off the Trail and any other helpful information."

An effort to reschedule the primary

New York Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) announced that he will introduce legislation "to move the 2020 presidential primaries in New York State from April 28 to June 23 to align with the state and Congressional primary elections, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Moving the primary to June will give communities more time to keep resources where they are essential and minimize unnecessary group contact. I’m deeply committed to continuing to stay on the front lines of this pandemic and do everything possible to keep New Yorkers healthy from this virus...The Democratic and Republican Conventions are in July and August, respectively, so a June primary would not have an adverse effect on the conventions."

Skoufis calls for faster testing

New York Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) co-sponsored legislation that will empower independent pharmacists during the coronavirus pandemic. Bill S5092 authorizes pharmacists as qualified health care professionals and allows them to complete the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments waived testing under their own practice, removing a barrier that currently requires them to hire a medical director -- something most local pharmacists can’t afford to do.

The waived testing allows for the screening and treatment process to be completed during a single encounter, improving access to care, counseling, and overall patient outcomes.

“As we see our hospital beds fill up with people testing positive for coronavirus, the capacity of our providers is going to be tested and we need to come up with innovative ways to ease that burden,” said Skofuis. “This bill will give independent pharmacists the ability to test for the flu and other illnesses to help rule-out COVID-19 and ensure that hospital beds are reserved and resources are used for those who need them most.”

Legislation against price gouging

New York Senator Jen Metzger (SD-42) on Friday joined lawmakers in thwarting bad-faith businesses looking to make a profit off the COVID-19 public health crisis by supporting new legislation (S7932) that would crack down on price gouging of consumer medical supplies that New Yorkers need.

“At a time when the most vulnerable in our communities are at risk, it is absolutely shameful to hike up prices for goods that can help prevent illness and save lives," said Metzger. "This legislation is intended to prevent unscrupulous businesses from profiting at the expense of public health.”

Online retailers often do not closely monitor individual sellers’ price points on their platforms, and there is concern that gouging already taking place on sites like eBay and Amazon is also occurring in small stores throughout the state.

The new legislation would curb price gouging during public health emergencies by strengthening New York’s existing price gouging statute to create a presumption that any price increase of greater than 10 percent during a public health emergency began is illicit price gouging. The New York Attorney General would be able to penalize retailers, manufacturers, and distributors who raise prices on consumer medical supplies, and enforce a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for anyone proven to have participated in price gouging.

Tristate tallies:
Here follows the number of positive cases in the tristate area as of March 16:
New York State: 950, six deaths
Orange County, N.Y: 7
Pennsylvania: 76
Pike County, Pa.: 1
Wayne County, Pa.: 1
Monroe County, Pa.: 8
New Jersey: 98, two deaths
USA: 4,093, 69 deaths