Cuomo: NY will follow CDC guidance on masks, distancing for vaccinated people effective Wednesday |

Cuomo: NY will follow CDC guidance on masks, distancing for vaccinated people effective Wednesday

Updated: May 17, 2021 01:40 PM
Created: May 17, 2021 11:16 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— Starting Wednesday, If you got your COVID-19 vaccine, you will no longer need your mask, or keep physical distance in most places across New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday announced New York State will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for masking and physical distancing for people who have been vaccinated.

The CDC first announced the eased guidelines Thursday, allowing vaccinated people to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.

Cuomo said the change is a "radical" change, so the state wanted to analyze the law, and give businesses and local governments a chance to adapt.

The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues — even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

The state says it still recommends wearing masks in indoor locations where everyone's vaccination status may not be known.

On the day of the CDC announcement, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and Monroe County Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Michael Mendoza urged Cuomo to adopt the guidance.

The announcement comes on the same day curfew restrictions were lifted for outdoor dining, with indoor dining restrictions to be lifted on Memorial Day.

Locally, state data showed the Finger Lakes Region still had the highest positivity rate across the state at 2.72%, but the overall rate was at its lowest since September, something Cuomo said was "a function of behavior." 

Cuomo said private businesses and venues will still be able to keep masking and distancing rules in place if they choose to. Some have previously told News10NBC they intend to keep the rules in place.  Statuses could be checked by either using your vaccine card, or the state's Excelsior Pass.

Expanded guidance released by the state says small-scale events can use the revised rules. This means an event that is under the state's current social gathering limit of 250 people indoors, and 500 people outdoors. Those venues can still require masks.

Larger-scale events that exceed the limit will only be restricted by the space it has to keep people distanced. For recap, unvaccinated people will still have to be at a six-foot distance, while vaccinated people can be at 100% capacity. The state said a venue will have to check for vaccination status in order to buy into the guidance.

Downstate, Cuomo said Rockefeller City Music Hall in Manhattan will reopen as a 100% capacity theater for people who are vaccinated, no masks required.

Currently, the vaccine is available to people 12 years old and up. The state says children under the age of 16 who are not vaccinated eligible or have not received the shot can still be seated with a vaccinated adult in a fully vaccinated section. 

The latest vaccine data as of Sunday showed 61.6% of the eligible 18+ population completed at least one dose, while 51.9% are fully vaccinated.

State Assemblywoman Jennifer Lunsford says she's glad to see the state aligning with the CDC.

"I think that we should be in lockstep as much as possible. I understand people have a lot of concerns and feel that this might be a little early. I encourage people to continue wearing masks if that is what their comfort level is," Lunsford said.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said this is as much a mental health decision as it is about safety. 

"We're at the time of year now where everyone wants to be outside. We want to be outside. We want to feel part of a community again, and again the science has shown that being outdoors if you've been vaccinated the risk of transmission is very low," Bello said.

With more choice being introduced into the equation, Bello said he hopes for more understanding as well. 

"Because there's a lot of folks in our community who are still concerned even if they have been vaccinated, and are going to choose to wear a mask, and we need to respect that. We need to respect each other's personal choices," Bello said.

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