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New York will go ‘back to life as normal’ once state hits 70% vaccinated with first dose: Cuomo

Don Pollard/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo will lift most remaining COVID-19 restrictions in the state when 70% of adult New Yorkers have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We hit 70%, we will be back to life as normal — or as normal as you can be post-COVID,” Cuomo said at a June 7 press conference.

The state will lift its guidelines for retail, food services, offices, gyms, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barber shops, personal care services, and other commercial settings after that benchmark. That’s likely to happen in only a few days; presently, at least 68.6% of New Yorkers got at least one dose.

Once New York hits the 70% plateau, the Empire State Building will light up in blue and gold to celebrate the achievement, Cuomo said. 

The remaining restrictions — including capacity limits, social distancing requirements, cleaning and disinfection, health screening and contact tracing — will become optional for all but a handful of businesses and settings.

Businesses can still choose to keep restrictions like mask requirements or social distancing for their staff and patrons, as long as they adhere to state and federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the governor’s office.

Unvaccinated people will still have to wear masks and be responsible for maintaining proper 6-foot social distances, as per the latest federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Until more New Yorkers get their shots, the state’s current COVID-19 rules will still be mandatory for large-scale event venues, pre-K to 12 schools, public transit, shelters, jails, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings.

The Empire State’s COVID-19 positivity rate was 0.51% as of June 6 over a 7-day average, marking 63 days of a straight decline, with 0.43% in New York City.

Some 19.5 million New Yorkers have gotten shots in their arms, including 10.9 million with at least one dose and 9.4 million fully vaccinated (one-and-done shot of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, or both doses of the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccines).

The state will aim to get more shots in arms by focusing on groups such as youngsters aged 12-17, who only recently became eligible, and ZIP codes with low vaccination rates, Cuomo said.

In the five boroughs, those are predominantly in poorer and Black neighborhoods, such as Far Rockaway, Queens, which at 31.2% had the lowest rate in the city.

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