New York lifts most Covid restrictions 'effective immediately' now that 70% of adults have at least one vaccine shot

  • New York will lift most of its Covid-19 restrictions after the state reached an adult vaccination rate of 70%, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced.
  • Once a global Covid hotspot, the state now has one of the lowest positivity rates in the U.S.
  • More than 11.1 million of the state's residents have been vaccinated with at least one shot and about 9.8 million are fully vaccinated, according to state data.

New York will lift most of its Covid-19 restrictions now that 70% of all adults have been vaccinated with at least one dose, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday.

"Life is about thriving. Life is about seeing people. Life is about loving life is about celebrating. Life is about enjoying life is about interacting. And now we get back to living in life," Cuomo said. The state mandates he put in place to curb the outbreak beginning in March 2020 are being relaxed "as of today, effective immediately," he announced.

While New York, which was the epicenter of the global outbreak early on in the pandemic, has recorded more than 2 million cases and almost 53,000 Covid deaths, it now boasts one of the lowest positivity rates in the United States.

On Sunday, the seven-day positivity average was 0.41%, down from a high of 7.9% on Jan. 4. Every region of the state has a positivity rate below 1%.

Cuomo emphasized that 70% is a great milestone and a marker that the state is doing well but it is not the finish line. "We want to celebrate, but we want to remember what we are celebrating," Cuomo said Monday. "We're coming around the last turn."

More than 11.1 million of the state's residents have been vaccinated with at least one shot and about 9.8 million are fully vaccinated, according to state data.

"The more people get vaccinated, the lower the positivity rate," Cuomo said.

The state has administered more shots in arms per capita than any other big state in the country, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New York suffered widespread closures of its bars and restaurants due to pandemic lockdowns. Many restaurants and bars in New York City didn't survive. The restaurant industry employs nearly 1 million people in the state, accounting for 9% of total employment in the state.

Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate in New York state was 3.9%. That number shot up to 16.2% during the worst of the pandemic in April 2020. About one year later, the unemployment rate is at 8.2% as of April.

Cuomo said the state will lift capacity restrictions, social distancing, hygiene protocols, health screenings, some contact tracing and more.

Masks will still be required wherever the CDC still recommends their use, such as public transportation and indoor schooling. The state will allow schools and camps to decide whether to require masks for children during outdoor activities.

President Joe Biden has laid out a goal of vaccinating 70% of adults in the U.S. with at least one shot by the Fourth of July.

The Empire State Building and all other state assets will light up with blue and gold to celebrate the milestone vaccination rate.

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