NBC New York
“Today is Day 472. Today is Tuesday.” And effective immediately, state-mandated COVID restrictions are eliminated, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as he announced New York had achieved his 70% adult partial vaccination milestone early.
It means an opportunity to “return to life as we know it,” the Democrat said — and he plans a series of statewide fireworks displays Tuesday to celebrate (see the 10 designated locations further down in this story).
Standing within One World Trade Center, a 1,776-foot-tall testament to New York’s ability to recover from unthinkable loss, Cuomo declared the one-time epicenter had not only turned the page on the worst public health crisis in a century but emerged mightier from it. And he credited New Yorkers for continuing the fight.
What changes going forward? No more social distancing or gathering limits for more than a dozen commercial and social settings (see them below). No more capacity restrictions. No more health screening. No more contact tracing protocols.
Individual establishments can impose stricter standards if they so choose but the state executive orders that have mandated them for well more than a year are done.
Unvaccinated people are still responsible for continuing to weak masks, per the CDC. Existing COVID-19 protocol remains in place for pre-K-12 schools, public transit, shelters, large-scale indoor events venues, correctional facilities and healthcare settings in accordance with CDC guidelines, Cuomo noted. Those standards could be tweaked before long, too, if the CDC adjusts its guidance.
“This is a momentous day — and we deserve it, because it has been a long, long road,” the governor said amid resounding applause from a room packed with his labor union allies. “It’s a day to look backward and remember where we were, but also a day to look forward to where we’re going.”
“If you said to us on Day 1, at the beginning of COVID, that we would be capable of what we have done, no one would believe it,” Cuomo added. “Where are we today? We have the lowest COVID positivity rate in the United States of America.”
He plans to mark the day with a 9:15 p.m. statewide fireworks celebration to honor the essential workers, without whom he says the state could not have made it through the nightmarish early days of the pandemic and the daily devastation that followed. Thirteen state landmarks will be lit blue and gold to “say thank you.”