Just in time for Memorial Day celebrations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday issued an executive order that loosened coronavirus social distancing restrictions. Now, he says, up to 10 people may gather “for any lawful purpose or reason” anywhere in the state — including New York City — provided that social-distance protocols are followed.

As of Friday, New York City had 197,000 residents test positive for COVID-19 and 16,149 deaths. But for the past three weeks, the number of daily cases and deaths have been on a steady declined.

Still, some officials in government feel Cuomo’s decision was rushed and not evidence-based.

Brooklyn City Councilmember Brad Lander said on Twitter that while he supports the “separation of church-and-state” and agrees that “it has to be all or none,” jumping abruptly to 10-person gatherings was a bad move.

Councilmember Mark D. Levine of Upper Manhattan and chairman of the City Council’s health committee,  pointed out, also on Twitter, that the order had not been made by health professionals: “This shocking order … changes nothing about the risks associated with group gatherings — especially those held indoors,” he wrote in a tweet.

The opinions about whether to loosen restrictions is mixed as well among Brooklyn’s residents.

“I think it’s good,” said Roberto Lenconi, a Bed-Stuy resident. “Things are improving, and we’ve got to return back to normal at some point, right? We need to be careful, and I’m glad the governor’s taking small steps.”

Bram Cohen of Bed-Stuy seemed confused by the governor’s decision and felt the steps were too big. “I don’t know, it seems kind of like a random decision to me,” he said while ordering coffee on Nostrand Avenue. “And shouldn’t we start with smaller groups instead of 10? I think I would feel better about the decision if it were based off of something… It seems he was just trying to appease people for the holiday, which is kind of dangerous.”

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  1. The gov’t will have to closely monitor the data to make sure this does not ignite a second wave of infection. Increased contact tracing and testing should help.

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