NYC’s State of Emergency: what it really means

By Mayor Bill de Blasio.

My fellow New Yorkers:

Things are moving very quickly when it comes to coronavirus. Over the last 24 hours, New Yorkers have been bombarded by a flood of new information and changes to daily life.

I know a lot of you are confused and worried about what all of this means to you and your loved ones.

Yesterday, I declared a State of Emergency in New York City. I want to lay out exactly what that means.

This emergency order invests the government with powers it needs in times of crisis so we can protect New Yorkers. Some of those powers we’re using right now. Others are there for the day they might be needed in the weeks ahead.

Let’s start with what’s happening right now.

The State has set out rules, consistent with our own emergency powers, to cancel large gatherings and limit how many people can be in congregate in venues and establishments all over the city.

The Governor and I are in full agreement on the need for these steps. Parades, rallies, concerts, sporting events and conferences with more than 500 people are canceled as of Friday, March 13th. For establishments like bars, restaurants and banquet halls with a capacity under 500, we’re mandating they cut their occupancy by half to open up space and help people social distance.

We don’t make these decisions lightly. The serious impact these actions will have on businesses and hardworking families will be painful. But they are absolutely necessary. We’ve seen in other parts of the world that measures to create more personal space make it harder for coronavirus to spread rapidly.

That’s where we are today. So what about the days ahead?

The emergency order gives us the power we need to stop price gouging, rework rules that restrict the job descriptions of public workers and put City facilities to emergency use. We can order hospitals to postpone elective procedures so we can prioritize fighting coronavirus.

The more drastic powers — things like shutting down transit, establishing curfews, and ordering people out of streets and public spaces — are last resorts. We’ll use them if and when they are absolutely necessary to protect the health and well-being of New Yorkers.

You have the largest, strongest City government in the country, and we’ve been preparing for this since the first alerts about coronavirus in January. We are preserving the basic services you rely on every single day. The sun will rise tomorrow and your city will rise to meet it.

There are a lot of rumors and misinformation at a time like this. We will continue to provide New Yorkers with the most up to date information available. Text COVID to 692692, go to or call 311 to get constant updates and stay in the know.

Your Mayor,

Bill de Blasio