Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that COVID-19 restrictions are lifted immediately as 70 percent of New Yorkers aged 18 or older have received the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccination series. The State’s health guidance and New York Forward industry specific guidelines—including social gathering limits, capacity restrictions, social distancing, cleaning and disinfection, health screening, and contact information for tracing—are now optional for retail, food services, offices, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barber shops and personal care services, among other commercial settings.
Unvaccinated individuals continue to be responsible for wearing masks, in accordance with federal CDC guidance. Consistent with the State’s implementation of the recent CDC guidance, masks are still required for unvaccinated individuals. Further, the State’s health guidelines continue to be in effect for large-scale indoor event venues, pre-K to grade 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and health care settings per CDC guidelines.
“What New York has done is extraordinary. Not only do we have the lowest COVID positivity rate in the United States of America, we have hit 70 percent vaccination ahead of schedule. We successfully deployed the weapon that will win the war, and New York led the nation,” Governor Cuomo said. “We led with nurse Sandra Lindsay, who was the first at Northwell to take that vaccine and to assure people it was safe. We’ve gone on to do more than 20 million vaccines, more per capita than any big state in the United States of America. Congratulations to New Yorkers because they are the ones who did it. We’re no longer just surviving—we’re thriving. The state mandates that have proven right and brought us through this pandemic are relaxed as of today, effective immediately.”
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey D. Zients said, “In communities across New York, the deadly Coronavirus is in retreat thanks to the state’s progress on vaccinations. New York went from being one of the hardest-hit states in the country to being one of the leading states in its effort to combat the virus because of a vaccination program that made it easy and convenient for New Yorkers to get vaccinated, state and community leaders who worked hard at the local level, and millions of New Yorkers who rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated.”
The State’s COVID restrictions remain in effect for large-scale indoor event venues—now defined as indoor venues that hold more than 5,000 attendees. Consistent with the State’s implementation of the CDC guidelines, proof of vaccination can be used to eliminate social distancing and remove masks for fully vaccinated individuals. Unvaccinated or unknown vaccination status individuals who are over the age of four must continue to present proof of a recent negative diagnostic COVID-19 test result and wear masks within the venue. However, social distancing can be reduced or eliminated between tested attendees, allowing venues to reach 100 percent capacity in all sections.
As of today, over 70 percent of adult New Yorkers have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and the rate of new COVID-19 cases has plummeted to the lowest levels in the nation. Given New York’s progress and the diminished risk of COVID-19 within the community, the State is lifting COVID-19 restrictions effective immediately, except for the mask requirement for unvaccinated individuals and in certain settings (e.g., large-scale indoor event venues, pre-K to grade 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes and health care settings per CDC guidance). While New York Forward industry reopening guidance is no longer mandatory for most industries, these documents will be archived and made available as a public reference.
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. Businesses are also authorized to require masks and six feet of social distancing for employees and patrons within their establishments, regardless of vaccination status. Any mask requirements that businesses choose to implement must adhere to applicable federal and state laws and regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.