Masks will no longer be mandated in New York come Wednesday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that he would be lifting the mask mandate for fully vaccinated New Yorkers, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new mask and social distancing guidelines released last week.
Masks will still be required on public transit, and in nursing homes, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, schools and healthcare facilities, Cuomo said, and private venues can impose additional restrictions.
Cuomo said New York had to reopen and it had to reopen smartly and with a cautious eye.
"We have to get back to life and living and we have to do it the way New Yorkers do it," he said in a press conference.
"Unvaccinated people should continue to wear a mask and social distance, but if you are vaccinated you are safe -- no masks, no social distancing."
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he thought the guidance made sense, and people who were vaccinated should have more freedom.
On Monday, New York City also relaunched its 24-hour subway service after the service was cut citywide in March 2020. This week also spells the end for restaurant curfews.
Cuomo also said the New York City Marathon will go ahead at 60% capacity this November; Knicks and Nets games can have a crowd at 50% capacity; Radio City will host the closing night of the Tribeca Festival at full capacity with a fully vaccinated and mask-less audience; and there are plans to pilot social distancing in small venues, including Broadway theaters.
Pools and beaches will also reopen with social distancing requirements in anticipation of Memorial Day. Cuomo said the goal was to reopen them to 100% capacity by July 4.
"All the COVID-19 numbers are trending in the right direction, and as more New Yorkers get vaccinated, it's important not to lose any of the significant progress we've gained. As the numbers go down, we can incrementally reopen the economy, and we're going to allow beaches and pools to operate with six-foot social distancing in time for Memorial Day," Governor Cuomo said.
Behind the loosening of COVID-19 regulations is the continued campaign to get New Yorkers vaccinated. New Yorkers can now get vaccinated at select MTA subway stations — including at Brooklyn's Broadway Junction between 3:00-8:00pm until Saturday.
The MTA sites serve up to 300 walk-ins per day on a first come, first served basis and use the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Those who get vaccinated at the sites get a free seven-day MetroCard or free round trip Long Island Rail Road ticket.
Cuomo said more New Yorkers were getting vaccinated every day, but the vaccination rate was slowing.
"We need to get creative to continue getting shots in arms. Incentives like those offered by the MTA are important tools we can use to reach New Yorkers who haven't gotten vaccinated yet, and they've been successfully implemented at eight previously opened locations," he said.
Statewide, more than 17.5 million vaccines have been administered and more than 51% of New Yorkers over 18 are fully vaccinated. On Sunday, the state had its lowest COVID-19 positivity rate since October 10, 2020.
Last week, the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use for 12 to 15-year-olds in New York.
Also last week, New York's eviction moratorium was extended through the end of August. To be protected under the law, people must sign a "Hardship Declaration" and deliver it to their landlord.
New York City announced the Fair Share NYC: Restaurants program to connect restaurants to federal relief funds. The federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) provides non-taxable grants to restaurants hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis.
Individual restaurants can get up to $5 million as reimbursement for any revenue your business lost between 2019 and 2020. Click here to learn more about the RRF.
De Blasio also announced the City would invest $25 million in the City Artist Corps, a new recovery program aimed at hiring over 1,500 artists to create works throughout the five boroughs.
Inspired by the New Deal, the program is meant to help artists who were hit hardest by the pandemic and may have been left out of other local and federal funding opportunities; the city estimates they will create over 10,000 jobs with the program.
The state has also extended the moratorium on disconnecting utilities is until the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted or December 31, 2021.
New Yorkers can call 877-VAX-4NYC and make a coronavirus vaccine appointment 24 hours a day, seven days a week in any language. To make an appointment online, click here. Mass vaccination sites, including Medgar Evers College, are also offering walk-up appointments.