Cuomo drops most COVID-19 restrictions as state reaches high vax rate

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced most COVID-19 restrictions throughout New York will be lifted after the state reached the 70-percent vaccination rate. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted most of the remaining coronavirus restrictions throughout New York state Tuesday with more than 70 percent of residents 18 and older having received at least one vaccination.

According to Cuomo, capacity restrictions, social distancing, cleaning and disinfection, health screening, and contact tracing information have become optional for a variety of businesses, including offices, food services, fitness centers, hair salons, barber shops, and personal care services.

“As we celebrate lifting restrictions and resuming our reimagined normal, we also reflect on the hard work of New York state’s essential workers and we remember those we lost,” Cuomo said Tuesday. “New Yorkers have always been tough, but this last year has proven just how tough they are.”

“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,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffery D. Zients said.

Officials said New York has the lowest positivity rate throughout the nation and achieved the 70-percent benchmark ahead of schedule.

The lifted restrictions will only be applicable to residents who have received their vaccinations and will still be responsible for maintaining proper social distancing, mask-wearing, and other health and safety guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State guidelines will also remain in effect for large-scale events, pre-kindergarten-12th grade schools, public transit, correctional facilities, nursing homes and homeless centers.

Cuomo said that landmarks throughout the state were lit blue and gold Tuesday night in celebration of the statewide milestone. Fireworks displays were also held at various sites throughout the state, including Jones Beach.

More than 11 million people throughout New York had received at least one inoculation as of Tuesday, and more than 9 million had received a completed series, according to state Health Department figures. In Nassau County, more than 868,000 residents had received at least one vaccination as of Tuesday, with more than 775,000 receiving a completed vaccination series, according to state figures.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran praised residents throughout the county for their efforts in getting vaccinated at a higher rate than any other area throughout the state. 

“Today is a historic day. We’ve traveled a long journey as New Yorkers, and I’m proud that Nassau has helped lead the way,” Curran said. “With the highest vaccination rate among large counties in New York, Nassau is set to come back roaring. Life is returning to normal, businesses are reopening and thriving again – progress we’ve achieved together. Our comeback has only just begun.”

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