New York State will adopt the CDC's updated guidelines on masks for fully vaccinated people, starting Wednesday, May 19, said Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The means that fully-vaccinated people will not be required to wear masks or social distance indoors or outdoors, except while on public transportation, in a healthcare environment or at an establishment that otherwise still requires masks.
May 19 was previously set as the date for a 'major reopening' of economic activity in the Tri-State area.
Gov. Cuomo made the announcement at a news conference late-Monday morning at Radio City Music Hall, citing continuing good news in the fight against COVID-19 and state numbers on coronavirus-positivity, hospitalizations and deaths that are all "below the national average."
"We are managing COVID," Cuomo said. "We haven't defeated COVID, but we are managing COVID and we are managing COVID well."
New York State has seen 42 straight days of declining COVID cases. COVID-related deaths are at their lowest level since last October. COVID-related hospitalizations are at their lowest level since this past January.
Cuomo credited the good news to the efficacy of the COVID vaccines. New York has administered 70 million vaccine doses, with 62 percent of New Yorkers having received at least one dose. More than 50 percent of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, he said.
The state will continue to emphasize vaccination as it reopens with a number of "creative" new programs.
For example, the MTA will ramp up its 'Get a Shot — Take a Ride' program, which rewards people who get the vaccine at a transit station with a free transit ride. The pilot program last week was deemed a success after delivering 5,700 vaccinations in five days.
With both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks headed to the NBA Playoffs this weekend, Cuomo added that local arenas can sell tickets for vaccinated and unvaccinated sections.
Capacity in vaccinated sections is up to the venue, as no social distancing is required among vaccinated fans. Cuomo hopes this will encourage more vaccinations, as venues can sell more tickets to vaccinated people.
"We're opening up and we're opening up wth more opportunities for vaccinated people," Cuomo said.
Madison Square Garden Chairman James Dolan sat at the dais with the governor. He said the Knicks would make room for unvaccinated fans in the arena, but the emphasis would be to allow as many vaccinated fans in as possible for the team's playoff games. He added that venues like Radio City might only be open to a vaccinated audience.
Fans can prove their vaccination status with their vaccination card or by using the state's Excelsior Pass mobile app.
Photo: Getty Images