New York's shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys will temporarily close effective Thursday evening.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday afternoon announced the move intended to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
It applies to the indoor portion of retail shopping centers, amusement parks and bowling alleys statewide and takes effect at 8 p.m. Thursday. Officials in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut are taking the same action.
#BREAKING: NY, PA, CT, and NJ will temporarily close all indoor portions of retail shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys effective tomorrow 8PM.
Together we will reduce density and slow the spread of #Coronavirus.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 18, 2020
Stores with exterior entrances may remain open, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said on Twitter Wednesday afternoon. Many stores with their own entrances, however, are mall anchors such as Macy's and J.C. Penney, which have already closed or are in the process of closing.
Buffalo Niagara malls had remained open even as officials ordered the closing of all malls in Syracuse and its suburbs, effective Wednesday afternoon.
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon signed an executive order closing three malls in the Syracuse area including Destiny USA, the largest mall in upstate New York.
The shutdowns take effect at 5 p.m. and will last indefinitely, according to local media reports. They also include the smaller, struggling ShoppingTown and Great Northern malls.
In this area, however, officials in Erie and Niagara counties so far had allowed the Walden Galleria, Boulevard Mall, McKinley Mall, Eastern Hills Mall and Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA to remain open.
Poloncarz said at his Tuesday news conference that he was not ordering the closure of any malls, but has repeatedly told the public not to go to them.
Malls must still meet state restrictions on capacity.
As long as mall management does nothing to try to attract greater crowds at the mall, such as hosting a giveaway, he said, he was not ordering closure.
The issue drew heightened attention after county health officials said one of the patients who tested positive for COVID-19 had gone to the Walden Galleria one day last week.
News Staff Reporters Sandra Tan and Samantha Christmann contributed to this report.