New York will adopt the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines to not require masks or social distancing for vaccinated people beginning Wednesday, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.
Unvaccinated people should still wear masks, and masks will still be required of all people on public transit, in schools and some communal settings, Cuomo said at a news conference. The outdoor dining curfew ended Monday, most capacity guidelines will end Wednesday and the indoor food and beverage curfew will be lifted May 31, but private venues may continue to implement stricter Covid-19 restrictions.
The announcement from Cuomo comes on the heels of new CDC guidance released last week that people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances. The updated guidance also says people still need to wear masks if they’re unvaccinated, including people younger than 12. In turn, many states have sought to begin reopening as more people are vaccinated.
Last week California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an effective end to the state’s mask mandate when California fully reopens next month, and Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that her state — which recently battled a surge in coronavirus cases — would lift its mask requirement for fully vaccinated people over the weekend.
Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday that fully vaccinated people in the nation’s capital no longer need to wear masks in most situations, with some limited exceptions including schools and health care facilities.
New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, meanwhile, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” Monday that his state is “just not ready” to adopt the new guidance.
“We’ve been clobbered not once, but twice. We’ve lost over 26,000 people. We know the virus is more lethal indoors. And you’re asking somebody who is at the hardware store working there, or in a retail or a grocery store, to make the judgment on who is vaccinated and who is not. We’re not there yet. We’re close,” he said.
Democratic Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, who rescinded his city’s most recent emergency Covid-19 order in light of the new CDC guidance, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” that “we were caught off guard.”
“Our goal all along has been to align ourselves with the CDC, we are in a red state in a red region,” Lucas said Monday. “We want to say, it’s the science, it’s medical experts who are really helping us make our decisions. When you see this sort of shift, particularly one that doesn’t really align with how enforcement is done, it creates a challenge for us.”
Cuomo said Monday that 52% of adult New Yorkers are now fully vaccinated, adding that the statewide positivity rate is 1.26% and there are 1,581 Covid-19 hospitalizations statewide. New York recorded 11 fatalities related to the virus Sunday, the lowest single-day count since October 30, he said.
New York venues expand in-person event capacity
“The whole point of this CDC’s change, the whole point of our change, is to say to people, there are benefits to being vaccinated,” Cuomo told reporters.
James Dolan, the CEO of Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp., said the venue will “favor the vaccinated” for events like the upcoming New York Knicks games. Dolan said the organization has not yet sorted out vaccination verification for venue entry.
Cuomo told reporters he’s encouraging private venues to permit more capacity for vaccinated people over unvaccinated attendees.
“Private venues, I encourage them to have a high percentage available for vaccinated people,” he said. “Radio City is going to be 100%, I encourage that, because that’s an incentive to get vaccinated.”
Radio City Music Hall will be at 100% capacity with no social distancing or masks, permitting only vaccinated attendees for the closing event of the Tribeca Film Festival on June 19, Cuomo said.
The film festival will host in-person events throughout New York City in June, Cuomo announced. It will be the first in-person festival to take place in North America since the pandemic, Tribeca Film Festival cofounder Jane Rosenthal said at the news conference.
The New York City Marathon is scheduled for November 7 with 33,000 runners, which is 60% of capacity, the governor announced, noting that race capacity and safety protocols could change before the event depending on the pandemic status.
This story has been updated with additional information Monday.