Andrew Cuomo Announces End of NY Mask Mandate: Shutdown ‘Caused All Sorts of Damage’

Pedestrians make their way along a street outside Penn station in Manhattan, New York on May 17, 2021. - From large corporations calling employees back to business district skyscrapers to the return of lunchtime lines at salad bars: signs that workers are returning to New York's offices, albeit in "hybrid" …
ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), amid pressure from several officials in the state, announced Monday that beginning Wednesday, the Empire State will adopt guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), foregoing a statewide mask mandate and easing other coronavirus restrictions for vaccinated residents.

“New Yorkers have made great progress,” Cuomo said during a press conference held at an empty Radio City Music Hall. “All the arrows are now pointed in the right direction. So, let’s get back to life”:

Masks will remain a requirement while using public transit, in nursing homes, correctional facilities, schools, homeless shelters, healthcare facilities, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities. Cuomo also reiterated that private businesses may set their own requirements for masks and social distancing.

“This shutdown has caused all sorts of damage, damage that we’re not even aware of,” Cuomo said, discussing the economic impact and adding that it is to blame for “keeping kids out of school for a year.”

“We have to reopen smart. We have to reopen with a cautious eye, but we have to get back to life,” he added. “Effective this Wednesday, we’re going to adopt the CDC’s new guidance and regulations on masks and social distancing for vaccinated people.”

A sideshow from Cuomo’s press conference stated:

  • Most capacity restrictions lifted tri-state — restaurants, museums, retail, offices, etc.
  • Indoor food and beverage curfew lifted May 31.
  • Outdoor gathering limit already increased to 500.
  • Indoor gathering limit increased to 500.
  • Indoor residential gathering limit increased to 50.
  • 24-hour subway service has returned.

Cuomo also suggested that those who have not received the vaccination do so, telling state residents if they have already received the vaccine, they “are safe.”

“Unvaccinated people should continue to wear a mask and social distance, but if you are vaccinated, you are safe — no masks, no social distancing,” Cuomo said.

“The whole point of the CDC’s change, the whole point of our change, is to say to people, ‘There are benefits to being vaccinated,'” he added.

As a local NBC news affiliate reported, New York coronavirus “deaths are regularly in the 20s (and fell to 11 on Monday, the lowest single-day count since Oct. 30, Cuomo said), while COVID hospitalizations are at their lowest level since the second week of November and have plunged nearly 60 percent over the last month alone.”

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