Vaccinated New Yorkers were no longer required to wear masks beginning Wednesday, May 18, both indoors and outside, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.
Those who are not vaccinated, however, are still required to wear masks in public places and are advised to do so at all times indoors.
Most public facilities like government buildings and schools will continue to require the wearing of masks by anyone working in or visiting their buildings. And private businesses will still have the right to require that their patrons wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines when entering.
The shift in state policy came after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, issued an advisory last week that those people who have completed their full vaccination course — still only about 35 percent of all Americans — need not wear masks to protect themselves or others from transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
“Effective this Wednesday, we’re going to adopt the CDC’s new guidance and regulations on masks and social distancing for vaccinated people,” Mr. Cuomo said. “By the CDC guidance, immunocompromised people, unvaccinated people should continue to wear a mask and social distance. But if you are vaccinated, you are safe — no masks, no social distancing.”
The state will still require everyone to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines in nursing homes, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, schools, doctors offices and aboard any public transportation, including subways, buses and trains.
Southampton Town, which has had all of its government offices open to the public for several months announced on Monday that it would be lifting the mask requirement in town facilities.
“This is a significant milestone in the path to bringing our lives back to normal after the pandemic,” Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said in a statement released by the town. “I hope this news will make people smile, and I look forward to seeing those smiles for the first time in over a year.”
East Hampton Town, however, will not be so quick to abandon the cautionary requirements.
Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said that all town facilities will open to the public for the first time in more than a year on Thursday, May 19, but that all visitors to town offices and buildings will still be asked to wear face coverings indoors.
“There are still a number of people who would like these restrictions to stay in place a little longer out of concern for those who have not had a chance to get vaccinated yet, so everybody should continue to wear masks indoors,” he said. “We’re going to take it kind of slow.”
Mr. Cuomo also announced that the statewide positively rate on Tuesday was 1.26 percent out of 101,173 tests performed. On Long Island, the positivity rate was 0.98 percent, the first time the positivity rate has dropped below the 1-percent rate that indicates there is not significant spread of the virus happening since last summer.
Statewide COVID-related hospitalizations were 1,581, the lowest since November 3, 2020. The number of new deaths attributed to COVID was 11, the lowest since October 20, 2020.
Of the state population age 18 and older, 52.2 percent are fully vaccinated, the governor reported.
“New Yorkers have made more progress than any state in the United States of America,” Mr. Cuomo said.