Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo announced summer school will be conducted through distance learning this year to help reduce the risk of spread.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo announced summer school will be conducted through distance learning this year to help reduce the risk of spread. (Don Pollard/Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo)

ALBANY, N.Y. - Gatherings of up to 10 people will now be allowed in New York after a lawsuit challenged a directive from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that only gave the green light to Memorial Day celebrations and religious services.

The change came Friday evening after the New York Civil Liberties Union sued the governor on behalf of a Brooklyn woman arrested twice outside City Hall for protesting the statewide coronavirus shutdown.

The group argued that Cuomo's initial order signed a day earlier infringed on New Yorkers' First Amendment rights by allowing certain gatherings but limiting protests and demonstrations during the pandemic.

"We're glad to see the governor reverse course on his executive order from last night. The right to protest and exercise free speech is the foundation of all our other liberties, and during a crisis is exactly when we need to be most vigilant about protecting it," said NYCLU legal director and lead attorney on the case, Christopher Dunn.

Cuomo signed an amended executive order Friday allowing all gatherings up to 10 people for "any lawful purpose or reason," provided people keep 6 feet apart and adhere to the Department of Health's cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

The NYCLU provided a copy of the new order, which was not posted on the governor's website as of 8 p.m. Friday.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Linda Bouferguen, who has been arrested twice outside City Hall in for protesting Cuomo's statewide shutdown and stay-at-home orders.

Both protests involved fewer than 20 people, all participants maintained social distancing of at least 6 feet apart and most wore masks, according to the suit.

Bouferguen was planning to organize a similar demonstration Saturday.

The governor announced earlier this week that the state will allow Memorial Day ceremonies honoring those who died while serving in the military to go forward this weekend with special coronavirus-related limits.

He also said faith services with 10 or fewer people will be permitted, so long as participants stay a safe distance apart and wear masks.

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