Fully vaccinated New Yorkers can now ditch masks in most public places

Photo provided by the Governor’s Office
Governor Andrew Cuomo, joined by Jane Rosenthal of the Tribeca Film Festival, Madison Square Garden President and CEO James Dolan, and Kerin Hempel of the New York Road Runners Club, announces the return of the New York City Marathon and the Tribeca Film Festival from the Great Stage at Radio City Music Hall on Monday May 17, 2021. The governor also announced Monday that most businesses will now be able to set their own rules on mask wearing for fully vaccinated patrons.

Beginning today, New Yorkers will use the CDC’s new Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated Individuals for business and public settings.

Most businesses will now be able to set their own rules on mask requirements for fully vaccinated patrons.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced the new updated guidelines — fully vaccinated individuals may resume life without wearing masks or social distancing in many public spaces. However, state guidelines recommend that everyone should still wear masks indoors when in the presence of others with unknown vaccination status.

“If you are vaccinated, you are safe,” Cuomo said. “No masks, no social distancing.”

Under the new guidelines, in most settings, vaccinated individuals will not be required to wear a mask. Unvaccinated individuals, under both CDC and state guidance must wear masks in all public settings.

The Department of Health strongly recommends masks in indoor settings where vaccination status of individuals is unknown.

Schools in grades pre-K to high school, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and health care settings will continue to follow the state’s existing COVID-19 health guidelines until more New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.

“We’re also going to follow the CDC’s guidelines that you will still need to wear a mask on public transportation, the subways, the buses, nursing homes, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, schools, and healthcare facilities,” Cuomo said. “The CDC guidance is all up on the website. Individual private venues still have the ability to add additional guidelines to the state guidelines and the CDC guidelines.

“But, for our part, we’re adopting the CDC and we’re saying let’s open.”

Additionally, fully vaccinated individuals are not required to get tested after a recent exposure, unless they are an employee or resident of a correctional facility or homeless shelter. Though the CDC still implores all individuals to get tested if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Fully vaccinated individuals can also skip testing and quarantining before and after domestic and international travel; though individuals must consider the guidance of their destination if they are traveling internationally.

The new CDC guidance will be implemented as more New Yorkers become fully vaccinated as the state’s economy reopens. Cuomo announced on May 12 that 50 percent of New York state has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

As of May 18, 50.2% of New Yorkers have had at least their first does of the vaccine, whereas 42.2% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the New York State Vaccine Tracker.

Governor Cuomo remarked on the hard work New Yorkers have done the past year to get to this point.

“That work has paid off and we are ecstatic to take this next step in the reopening of our beautiful state,” Cuomo said Monday. “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. We are ever closer to our better, safer New York. We are New York tough and we have proven it.”