CityWatch: New York lifts nearly all pandemic restrictions as single-dose vaccination rate passes 70%

Seventy percent of adults in New York state have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, clearing the way for the vast majority of pandemic-related restrictions to be lifted, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday.

“Today is a momentous day,” Cuomo said. “New York state has gone from the highest positivity rate on the globe and in the U.S., at 48.16%, to the lowest positivity rate in the country, 0.4%. What New York has done is extraordinary, we literally went from worst to first.”

Cuomo added, “Today New York’s vaccination rate is 70%. It’s the national goal, and we hit it ahead of schedule.”

In response to the 70% vaccination rate, which refers to the percentage of adults with at least one dose, the state has lifted nearly all pandemic-related restrictions on mask-wearing, cleaning, social distancing and event capacities, effective immediately.

“We can return to life as we know it,” Cuomo said. “New York state has administered 20 million more vaccines per capita than any big state in the U.S.” Long Island currently has the highest vaccination rate of any region in the state, at 75%, while New York City has administered doses to 68.4% of residents.

Also read: Live music, silenced by the pandemic, is finally a New York thing again 

Masks will still be required in schools, medical settings and on public transportation, as per CDC guidance, Cuomo said, but “all the state-mandated restrictions are lifted on commercial social settings, sports and recreation, construction, manufacturing, retail buildings—all across the board we can get back to living, and businesses can open because the state mandates are gone.”

Related: New U.S. COVID-19 cases and deaths tick higher, while CDC’s ‘real world’ study shows Pfizer, Moderna vaccines reduce infection risk by 91%

In honor of the vaccination milestone and essential workers, state landmarks, including the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center, will be lit blue and gold Tuesday night. There will also be fireworks displays across the state at 9:15 p.m. at locations including Jones Beach and New York Harbor.

“[The fireworks] are our way of saying thank you all across the state to celebrate our reopening, our reimagining,” Cuomo said. “The journey is not over, as health professionals will tell you, and we still have to manage COVID. Get vaccinated so you don’t need the essential workers again.”

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