New York will allow gatherings of up to 25 people in regions of the state that have entered the third phase of the reopening process, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced.
Five regions — the Finger Lakes, North Country, Southern Tier, Central New York and the Mohawk Valley — are now in phase 3, with western New York and the Capital Region entering the stage this week.
Currently, gatherings of no more than 10 people were allowed.
The expansion of gatherings comes as New York has made marked strides in controlling the spread of the virus after more than 20,000 people in the state died and thousands more were hospitalized.
But the infection rate has decreased dramatically in recent weeks, with many regions showing fewer than 1 percent of new cases among the thousands of people tested.
Hospitalizations remain at their lowest levels since the pandemic began, and 27 people have died from the virus in the last 24 hours.
States that have sought to reopen in recent weeks, meanwhile, have seen their infection rate spike as New York bucks that trend.
"We're afraid people from other states might come here and increase the viral spread," Cuomo said. "One of the great ironies."
Cuomo held his briefing on Monday in Westchester County at the bridge named after his late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo. The younger Cuomo was there to open a 3.6 mile bike and walking path on the bridge.
Still, Cuomo warned New Yorkers to not let down their guard and continue to follow social distancing guidelines and wear masks when in public.