NEW YORK — Virtually all coronavirus-related restrictions will be lifted across New York as the state reached 70% vaccination among adults.
“This is a momentous day, and we deserve it because it has been a long, long road,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “We can now return to life as we know it.”
The state has distributed more than 20.2 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and has fully vaccinated “a larger share of adults than any other big state in the country.”
Cartoons on the Coronavirus
The governor announced the end of the restrictions at a press conference on Tuesday, adding that the state, which once had the highest positivity rate in the world, 48.16%, now has a positivity rate of just 0.4%, the lowest in the U.S.
“We were alone, and it was frightening. It was like living through a science fiction movie. … People abandoned New York, but others stayed and others fought,” Cuomo said. “Where are we today? We have the lowest positivity rate in the United States of America. … We went literally, from worst to first.”
With 70% of adults vaccinated against COVID-19, a goal for the country and a number cited as necessary for herd immunity, all state-mandated virus-restrictions will be lifted immediately in all commercial and social settings. There will no longer be limits on social gatherings, capacity restrictions, health screenings, cleaning and disinfection protocols or contact tracing.
“The state mandates that have proven right and correct and brought us through this pandemic are relaxed as of today – effective immediately,” Cuomo said to a standing ovation at the press conference in New York City.
Implementing any virus-related protocols is voluntary and will be up to individual businesses and locations.
Per federal regulations, New York, once the first epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., will still require face coverings on public transportation, in schools and in health care facilities.
To mark the achievement, 13 landmarks will be lit up blue and gold on Tuesday and fireworks will be set off at 10 locations across the state.
“It’s a testament to the people of the state of New York. That is who did this,” Cuomo added. “People stayed tough and smart and united during the most difficult challenge of our lives. And most of all, the essential workers who came forward and whose efforts and courage brought us to this day – they are our heroes.”