Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that the state would follow the latest CDC guidance and lift the requirement for fully vaccinated persons to wear face masks in most public places, effective Wednesday, May 19.
But don’t throw out your mask just yet. Masks will still be required on public transit and in homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and healthcare settings, and individual businesses may choose to continue to require masks for all who enter their establishments.
Maximum capacity limits for businesses were replaced earlier this month the requirement that all spaces allow for six feet of distance between customers. New state guidelines say that is no longer necessary for vaccinated individuals. However, unlike the mask mandate, which doesn’t require you to show proof, the state says establishments need to check the status of everyone in the business (or in a separate section within the business) in order to dispense with the six-feet limit. “Proof of full vaccination status can be provided by patrons through paper form, digital application, or the State’s Excelsior Pass,” state the guidelines.
“New Yorkers have worked hard over the last year to prevent the spread of COVID and keep each other safe,” said Cuomo. “That work has paid off and we are ecstatic to take this next step in the reopening of our beautiful state. 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.”
While some states instantly adopted the new guidelines when announced on Thursday, May 13, New York was among a group that said it would take it “under advisement.”
Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan greeted the news positively.
“I applaud and support the decision by New York State to end mask mandates and adopt the CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals. This is a critical step forward in our efforts to responsibly reopen our communities, our schools, and our businesses; and to bring back a sense of normalcy. At the same time, this guidance must serve as a reminder that it is essential that all residents receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This positive progress in reopening is because of the work of the over 100,000 residents in our community who have done their part to get vaccinated. I encourage all those who have yet to do so to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
As of yesterday, about 48 percent of Ulster residents were fully vaccinated, 56 percent have received at least one dose, including 66 percent of those over 18.