Masked people walk Times Square in New York City on May 19, 2021.
John Smith | Corbis News | Getty Images
New York will lift most of its Covid-19 restrictions now that 70% of all adults in the state have been vaccinated with at least one dose, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday.
Cuomo said all government-enacted restrictions on commercial businesses, social facilities, sports and leisure events, construction, manufacturing and retail introduced since March 2020 will be withdrawn “with immediate effect.”
“We can live again. Shops can open because government mandates are gone, restrictions on social gatherings, capacity restrictions, health checks, cleaning and disinfection protocols, “he said. “Think about June 15th. Think about today because it is the day New York was resurrected.”
Residents and visitors are still required to wear masks in some settings such as hospitals, public transportation and schools according to guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he said, but all other state-mandated Covid restrictions will be lifted across New York. The state will allow schools and camps to decide whether masks are required for children during outdoor activities.
While New York, which was an early epicenter of the global outbreak last March and April, recorded more than 2 million cases and nearly 53,000 Covid deaths, it now has one of the lowest rates of positivity in the United States.
On Sunday, the state’s seven-day positivity rate was 0.41%, up from a high of 7.9% on Jan. 4. Every region of the state has a positivity rate of less than 1%.
Cuomo emphasized that 70% is a great milestone and a sign that the state is fine, but it’s not the finish line. “We want to celebrate, but we want to remember what we are celebrating,” said Cuomo on Monday. “We come around the last corner.”
More than 11.1 million residents of the state have been vaccinated with at least one vaccination, and about 9.8 million are fully vaccinated, according to the state.
The state has administered more shots per capita than any other large state in the country, according to the CDC.
New York suffered widespread closings of its bars and restaurants due to pandemic lockdowns. Many restaurants and bars in New York City did not survive. The restaurant industry employs nearly 1 million people in the state, which is 9% of total employment in the state.
Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate in New York state was 3.9%. That number skyrocketed to 16.2% during the worst of the pandemic in April 2020. About a year later, the unemployment rate was 8.2% in April.
Cuomo said the state will lift capacity restrictions, social distancing, hygiene protocols, health exams, some contact tracing, and more.
President Joe Biden’s goal is to have 70% of adults in the United States vaccinated with at least one vaccine by July 4th.
The Empire State Building and all other state assets will glow blue and gold to celebrate the milestone vaccination rate.