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New York will adopt new CDC rules on masks for vaccinated people



Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that New York will adopt the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on masks on Wednesday.

Fully vaccinated people will no longer have to wear masks outdoors or indoors and won’t have to socially distance.

Cuomo said those who have received all of their required COVID-19 vaccine doses two or more weeks ago will no longer have to wear masks outside, or inside stores, gyms and offices.

“If you are vaccinated, you are safe,” Cuomo said. “No masks, no social distancing.”

The fully vaccinated can also travel without having to quarantine or take a coronavirus test, but the tests might still be required for international flights returning to the U.S.

People who are unvaccinated or have not yet received all of their shots still have to wear masks and maintain 6 feet of distance from others. Masks will still be required on public transportation, including subways and airplanes, as well as in nursing homes, hospitals, doctors’ offices and schools. Masks will also continue to be mandatory for homeless shelters and prisons.

Cuomo previously announced that many other pandemic-era rules will also end Wednesday, including curfews for bars and restaurants, and many capacity limits for outdoor and indoor events.

The governor also said the New York City marathon will take place on Nov. 7 at 60% capacity with up to 33,000 runners. Registration opens June 8.

County fairs will be allowed to take place, as long as they can maintain 6 feet of social distancing.

Cuomo made the announcements at Radio City Music Hall, where he said the closing ceremonies of the Tribeca Film Festival will be held on June 19. Only those who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to attend.

James Dolan, who manages the music hall as well as Madison Square Garden, said a planned concert series this summer will require that ticket holders be vaccinated. Dolan, who also owns the New York Knicks basketball team, said those who are unvaccinated will be allowed at the sporting event, but he will give those who are vaccinated better access.

“We are still going to make room for people who are unvaccinated,” Dolan said. “But honestly, we are going to favor the vaccinated.”

Dolan said he has not yet figured out how to prove that attendees are fully vaccinated. Cuomo said ticket holders might be asked to produce their proof of vaccination card, or the state’s phone app that confirms vaccination.

Cuomo said part of the intent of the changed CDC rules is to provide more incentives to become vaccinated.

“There are benefits to being vaccinated,” Cuomo said.

Fifty-two percent of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, but the rate of vaccinations has slowed. Health experts say 70% is needed to achieve herd immunity.

Cuomo said he realizes that the new rules represent a “radical change” from what scientists and government leaders have been telling the public for the past 15 months. He said it’s OK to continue to wear a mask if you feel more comfortable doing so. 

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.