Cuomo to Drop Mask, Social Distancing Mandate for Fully Vaccinated New Yorkers

If you got your jab or jabs, you can finally bid a not-so-fond adieu to that uncomfortable cloth covering on your face. During New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily press conference on May 17, which was beaming in live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Cuomo noted that, effective Wednesday, May 19—the day when most of the longest-running COVID restrictions will either be lifted or greatly loosened anyway—New York State would adopt the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) new mask and social distancing guidelines for vaccinated people.

What does that mean for Capital Regionites? Per the CDC, fully vaccinated people will be able to resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. “If you are vaccinated, you are safe,” said Cuomo. “No mask, no social distancing.”

That said, masks will still be required while riding public transportation, at nursing homes, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, schools and health care facilities, per Cuomo. He also noted that individual private venues or businesses could still impose their own own limits or masking requirements on patrons or customers.

The governor also noted that, per the CDC, immunocompromised or nonvaccinated people should continue to wear a mask in public and practice social distancing.

Additionally, and particularly relevant to the Capital Region, Cuomo announced that all county fairs could safely reopen, as long as there was space enough for six-feet social distancing. And as a potential harbinger of positive things to come for Saratoga Springs’ entertainment venues—specifically, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and Saratoga Race Course—New York City’s Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center arenas would have two separate sections for the upcoming NBA playoffs, split into approximate 50 percent capacities each. For those that could confirm that they’d been fully vaccinated, there would be more than 50 percent seating capacity available in each arena. For the unvaccinated, there would also be a section, where six-feet-apart social distancing would be required. So a little bit of everything for everyone.

Of course, the above point could be moot by the time the Saratoga Race Course season begins on July 15, depending on a continued increase in vaccination percentages and cratering COVID positivity rates. The Capital Region’s positivity rate is currently just over one percent compared to New York City’s which is just under one percent.

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