Gov. Cuomo bans gatherings of more than 500 people in New York state

Cuomo said authorities wouldn't allow public gatherings of more than 500 people and would reduce the occupancy of venues of fewer than 500 by 50 percent.

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By Phil McCausland

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that the state would ban all gatherings of more than 500 people.

At a news conference about the state's response to the spread of the disease, in which he said the focus was testing and density reduction, Cuomo announced that the state not only would ban all gatherings of more than 500 people but also that any event of fewer than 500 would have to reduce its capacity by 50 percent.

The new rule would take effect Friday at 5 p.m., Cuomo said. The only exception was Broadway theaters in Manhattan, which would take on the order Thursday at 5 p.m.

Cuomo said the measure would not apply to schools, hospitals, nursing homes or mass transit.

The announcement could massively affect concerts, sporting events and more scheduled in New York City and throughout the state, and it could carry major financial consequences.

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The Broadway League, which represents the Broadway theater industry, announced in a statement that it would cancel all its shows until April 13.

"Our top priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of Broadway theatergoers and the thousands of people who work in the theater industry every day, including actors, musicians, stagehands, ushers, and many other dedicated professionals," Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin said.

Those who still hold tickets for shows before April 13 will be offered refunds or exchanges, the theater group said.