New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Tuesday that nearly all remaining coronavirus restrictions would be lifted now that 70 percent of adults in the Empire State are fully or partially vaccinated.
“This is a momentous day, and we deserve it,” Cuomo said at the One World Trade Center in New York City . “We will remember where we were, and where we’re doing. If you had said to us on Day 1, that we were going to be capable of the accomplishment we have reached, no one would have believed you.”
“We had the highest positivity rate of anywhere on the globe,” added Cuomo, whose mishandling of the pandemic damaged New York nursing homes and led to thousands of deaths.
“The fact was that New York was the victim of COVID [Chinese coronavirus],” Cuomo said. “Everybody was talking about China, but COVID had left China and went to Europe, and the flights from Europe came here. We were ambushed by COVID. We had people dying from COVID before we knew COVID was here. We were alone, it was frightening, it was like living through a science fiction movie.”
Cuomo continued, describing the pandemic as “probably the most frightening moment we went through and it was a moment that changed us.”
“We have the lowest positivity rate in the United States of America,” Cuomo said. “On the facts, what New York has done is extraordinary — we went from worst to first. And not only do we have the lowest rate, we hit the national goal ahead of schedule.”
Today is a momentous day, and New Yorkers deserve it because it has been a long, long road.
In honor of the lifting of nearly all COVID restrictions, and in gratitude of our essential workers, we'll have fireworks across the state to celebrate.
Look out for them at 9:15pm! 🎆
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 15, 2021
While most restrictions have been lifted effective immediately, there are some that remain. Coronavirus protocols will remain in effect for large-scale event venues, schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and health care facilities.
Residents who are unvaccinated are expected to maintain a six-foot social distance and wear face masks.
Services that will see the end of coronavirus restrictions include: Sports and recreation complexes, construction, manufacturing, trade, child care, camps, food services, offices, real estate, buildings, agriculture, fishing, forestry, amusement and family entertainment, personal care services, gyms, retail, malls, and movie theaters.
“Effective immediately, commercial, social, construction — all across the board, businesses are open,” Cuomo said. “Capacity restrictions, cleaning and sanitizing protocols are gone. It’s up to individuals and places. The CDC and federal guidelines are there for public transit and younger school grades.”
Cuomo noted that New Yorkers’ forced commitment during the pandemic was a “testament” and thanked essential workers for their role in getting the state reopened.
“It’s a testament to the people of the state of New York,” Cuomo said. “Most of all, the essential workers whose courage brought us through this day. We can’t say enough, we’ve said thank you, but we want to say thank you again.”
In addition to lifting nearly all restrictions, Cuomo said Fireworks would be displayed “across the state” to celebrate the work of essential workers. More than a dozen state landmarks in New York — including the Empire State Building, Niagara Falls, and the One World Trade Center — will also be lit in blue and gold Tuesday night to mark the milestone.