NY lifts more COVID-19 rules as it hits vaccination mark

AP – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday that 70 per cent of adults in New York have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, a threshold he said the state would celebrate by easing many of its remaining social distancing rules and shooting off fireworks.

“What does 70 per cent mean? It means that we can now return to life as we know it,” Cuomo told an invitation-only crowd at the World Trade Center in Manhattan.

Effective immediately, he said, the state is lifting rules that required many types of businesses to follow cleaning protocols or take people’s temperatures or screen them for recent COVID-19 symptoms. Movie theatres will no longer have to leave empty seats between patrons. Restaurants will no longer be forced to sit parties at least six feet apart. Stores won’t have to limit how many customers they admit. New York had previously allowed businesses to stop enforcing social distancing and mask rules for vaccinated patrons.

Some rules will remain: New Yorkers, for now, will continue to have to wear masks in schools, subways, large sports arenas, homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, jails, and prisons. Unvaccinated New Yorkers will still be subject to a mask mandate while indoors in public places. New York has, essentially, been at that 70 percent mark for days. It reached 69.5 per cent of adults vaccinated on Saturday, and 69.9 per cent on Monday.

But Cuomo said New York would remember Tuesday, June 15 — also the birthdate of his late father, the former Governor Mario Cuomo — as the date when New York “rose again”.

It’s unclear how many more people have to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity from the coronavirus, which is when so many people are resistant to the virus that it has trouble spreading.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at the One World Trade in New York. PHOTO: AP