New York state officials have suspended evictions indefinitely as more than 700 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the state.

According to a memo posted on the state court's website Sunday, the suspension went into effect Monday and will be enforced indefinitely. Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks wrote in the memo to court employees that the suspension applies to both residential and commercial evictions.

The move to stop housing removals over the weekend came after local tenants, their representatives and elected officials argued that evictions during this public health crisis would drive up homelessness and the spread of COVID-19, reports Curbed New York

At a Thursday press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that in some cases, those who are unable to pay their rent and are faced with eviction will be able to receive support through the city’s Human Resources Administration. 

“We’re worried about folks having trouble paying the rent,” de Blasio said. “Our goal here is to not only avoid the kinds of evictions that would happen because people are losing their livelihood in this crisis, but actually freeze up evictions as much as humanly possible.”

The New York City Housing Court previously announced that it will be suspending evictions from March 16 through March 20 of this year. New York’s decision to increase the suspension statewide is the largest suspension among cities and states that have adopted similar policies.

A coalition of 29 landlords pledged not to execute eviction warrants for 90 days following the housing court's week-long suspension, reports Curbed New York. 

On Monday morning, the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo advised non-essential businesses to close early to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak, which includes grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies, according to PIX11.   

“This is not mandatory, but we strongly advise this,” he added. 

The housing court will remain open, but effective Monday, March 16 at 5 p.m., state officials will be postponing all non-essential functions of the courts until further notice. Vital housing court functions such as landlord lockouts and repair orders will continue.

The Legal Services Staff Association, a union that represents court workers, praised the suspension as “a huge victory for tenants and the tenant movement.”



On Friday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed also suspended evictions of residents, reports NBC Bay Area. San Francisco’s moratorium, which lasts 30 days, protects tenants who can't pay rent because of business closure, loss of working hours or wages, layoffs or out-of-pocket medical costs.