Local Democratic and Republican officials backed the decision by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for New York to relax rules for wearing masks under coronavirus guidance put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the new guidelines, those who have been fully vaccinated will be able to do a majority of indoor and outdoor activities without a face covering or social distancing. On Monday, Cuomo announced that New York will adopt the centers’ guidelines beginning on Wednesday.
Under the guidelines, masks are still required in schools, on mass transit and in health care settings, and unvaccinated people are required to wear masks in public settings.
“The people of New York and visitors alike should take solace in the lifting of mask requirements, but be respectful of those who may still feel safest wearing their mask in public and business owners who may still ask patrons to don their mask,” Cuomo said. “We are ever closer to our better, safer New York.”
Cuomo said more than 52 percent of New Yorkers over 18 years old had been fully vaccinated, with more than 652,000 residents in Nassau County being fully vaccinated as of Tuesday.
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Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat, touted Cuomo’s decision to adopt the national guidelines and lauded the work of Nassau County health entities getting vaccinations into the arms of residents.
“The Governor’s decision to adopt the CDC mask-wearing guidance today reflects that truth as Nassau continues to put lifesaving shots into arms,” Curran said in a statement. “As Nassau continues to lead the State for people receiving the vaccine, I trust our residents are able to make the right decisions for themselves and their families.”
Nassau County Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) called on Cuomo to adopt the centers’ guidelines before the governor’s announcement on Monday. Nicolello said not adopting the guidelines would be a disincentive to people getting the vaccine.
“In Nassau County, more than 70% of eligible adults have now had at least one dose of the vaccine and the percentage of people testing positive for the virus has plummeted to below 1%,” Nicolello said. “For months we have been urging people to get vaccinated. The time has come to follow the science and update the mask mandate as the federal government has done.”
Cuomo announced two weeks ago that the state would lift a majority of capacity restrictions, including outdoor and indoor social gatherings, along with residential gatherings, beginning on Wednesday. Capacity limits for businesses will also be replaced with allowing individual businesses to permit as many patrons as they desire, so long as there is six-foot social distancing.
And under the latest guidance, businesses do not need to maintain six-foot social distancing if all patrons are vaccinated in the establishment or in a designated area.
Cuomo announced that limits on outdoor social gatherings would increase from 200 to 500 people on May 10, and the limits on indoor social gatherings will increase from 100 to 250 people on Wednesday. Also, as of Wednesday, there will be no restrictions on residential outdoor gatherings throughout the state, and the limit for residential indoor gatherings will increase from 10 to 50 people.
Cuomo said that any event with an excess amount of people will be permitted only if everyone in attendance can provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test or full vaccination.
Beginning on Wednesday, large-scale indoor events will be permitted to function at 30 percent capacity, an increase from 10 percent. Large-scale outdoor event venues will be permitted to function at a 33 percent capacity, Cuomo announced. He said patrons for both types of venues will require proof of full vaccination.
Cuomo also announced that hair salons, barbershops and other personal care services will be allowed to expand to 75 percent capacity, and gyms and fitness centers can expand to 50 percent capacity.