New York lifts remaining COVID-19 restrictions after reaching vaccination goal

Cuomo said the state can 'return to life as we know it'

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that all remaining COVID-19 restrictions "would be relaxed as of today" after the state reached its goal of vaccinating 70% of the adult population, but mask-wearing would remain in effect for some. Effective immediately, businesses in the state will no longer have to follow social distancing rules or limit how many people are allowed inside, Cuomo said at his press conference from the World Trade Center in Manhattan. 

However, masks will still be required in schools, subways, large venues, homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, jails and prisons. 

"Today New York State reached our goal of 70% adult vaccination," Cuomo's account tweeted during the press conference. "That means we can return to life as we know it. Effective immediately, state-mandated COVID restrictions are lifted across commercial and social settings."  

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Health screenings, cleaning and disinfecting protocols, contact tracing and social gathering restrictions are among the mandates being lifted. 

Cuomo noted that New York has gone from having the highest COVID positivity rate during the height of the pandemic at 48.16% to the lowest at 0.40% in the U.S. 

He said that New York has administered over 20 million doses of vaccine, and has fully vaccinated a larger share of adults "than any other big state in the country." 

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Cuomo said the state would express "gratitude of our essential workers" and celebrate achieving the vaccination goal with fireworks at 9:15 p.m. on Tuesday. A number of landmarks throughout the state would also be lit in blue and gold. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.