With New York State at a 70% vaccination rate, Governor Cuomo has announced (nearly) all state sanctions related to COVID-19 have officially been lifted — effective immediately.
It has been 473 days since the pandemic as we know it began here in NYC, with New York State going from the highest infection rate to the lowest. After so many tragic losses, it has finally come time to celebrate that the worst is over and thanks to the help of so many New Yorkers, the city made it through. [featured image source: Instagram / @mingomatic]
As we lift COVID restrictions, we honor the essential workers whose effort and courage brought us to this day.
You are our heroes. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/3LAG0qDCV2
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 15, 2021
Of course, rules and regulations have been gradually lifted over the last couple months…so what was left exactly, you may ask?
Basically, any State health guidance or industry specific guidelines (like for restaurants or entertainment businesses or what have you), are now completely optional. This includes commercial settings from retail to food to offices to gyms, pertaining to guidelines like masks, capacity restrictions, social distancing, and even cleaning and disinfecting. Each business can decide what policies they want to put (or not put) in place.
However, this does not apply to unvaccinated individuals. Since New York State implemented the CDC’s guidance on the matter, masks are still required for unvaccinated people. The CDC also set out mask guidance for settings like elementary and high schools, public transit, and healthcare that the State will still enforce as well (read more about those here). Another guidance the State is still adopting from the CDC recommendations is for large-scale indoor event venues that hold more than 5,000 people. Fully vaccinated individuals (with proof) can be allowed to no longer social distance or wear masks, though unvaccinated or unknown vaccination status individuals must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test and continue to wear masks.
“With the removal of the State’s minimum standard for reopening, businesses are free to choose to lift all or some restrictions, continue to adhere to the State’s archived guidance, or implement other health precautions for their employees and patrons,” the announcement reads. “Businesses are also authorized to require masks and six feet of social distancing for employees and patrons within their establishments, regardless of vaccination status.”
The news was celebrated with firework shows around New York State last night — to also honor all the essential workers that got us through the pandemic — including here in New York harbor. See photos from it here.