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Rockefeller Center Statues Dressed Wearing Masks to Coincide with New York City Entering Phase Two of Reopening
Photograph: Courtesy Diane Bondareff / AP Images for Tishman Speyer.

Cuomo says vaccinated New Yorkers can go mask-free starting Wednesday

The new ruling is in line with CDC guidelines saying vaccinated folks don't need to wear them.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

UPDATE: On Monday, May 17, Governor Cuomo officially designated Wednesday, May 19, as the day when the city will adopt current CDC guidelines and masks will no longer be required for vaccinated New Yorkers. Masks will still be required in public transit and private businesses will be able to implement their own restrictions. "If you are vaccinated, you are safe," he said.

If you thought you could finally discard your mask, you just have to wait a bit longer—at least here in New York.

On Thursday, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks in public or social distance, except in some medical settings and crowded situations, but Governor Andrew Cuomo told New Yorkers to hold off on putting their masks away.

So, instead of going along with the new CDC guidelines, Cuomo wants Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to review them first. 

"In New York, we have always relied on the facts and the science to guide us throughout the worst of this pandemic and in our successful reopening," Cuomo said. "We have received the newly revised guidance from the CDC regarding mask-wearing and social distancing for those with vaccinations and are reviewing them in consultation with Dr. Zucker and our partners and health experts in surrounding states."

He didn't say how long this would take, but in the meantime, New Yorkers are asked to keep wearing their masks.

The CDC's announcement came as a relief to millions of pandemic-weary Americans wanting to shed their masks. (The new guidelines don't apply to airplanes, buses, trains and other public transportation or health-care settings or where state or local restrictions still require them, according to The Washington Post.)

cdc mask guidelines infographic
Photograph: Courtesy CDC

"We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a briefing. "Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines and our understanding of how the virus spreads, that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated."

Despite this, the new guidelines have spurred on a lot of valid questions like "will unvaccinated people go unmasked, too?" and "how will essential workers remain safe?" especially when only 50% of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.

New Yorkers are definitely mixed on the new guidelines and took to social media to either extoll the news or state that they'd continue wearing their masks no matter what.

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