New York State has reached a major milestone in the fight against Covid-19. On Wednesday, May 19, in accordance with new recommendations from the CDC, the state government lifted the “mask mandate”, which required residents to leave their faces covered in public settings. The decision came after the state was pressured by multiple County Executives, including Rockland’s own Executive Ed Day, to adhere to new findings from the center for disease control which called into question the necessity of vaccinated citizens leaving their masks on in all public settings.
There are of course a few caveats.
First and foremost, the state has stressed that the mandate will remain in place for non-vaccinated residents. In addition, private businesses maintain the right to require all customers and staff to continue wearing a mask in their establishment. The mandate will also stay in place for Pre-K to 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and healthcare settings. The state further recommends leaving your mask on when gathering in any enclosed space if not everyone present has been vaccinated.
Outdoor gatherings however can now go mask-less and vaccinated individuals will no longer be legally obligated to leave their mask on in most indoor settings.
“New Yorkers have worked hard over the last year to prevent the spread of COVID and keep each other safe,” said Governor Cuomo when announcing the change in policy last Monday. “That work has paid off, and we are ecstatic to take this next step in the reopening of our beautiful state. The people of New York and visitors alike should take solace in the lifting of mask requirements, but be respectful of those who may still feel safest wearing their mask in public and business owners who may still ask patrons to don their mask. We are ever closer to our better, safer New York.”
The Governor’s optimism is no doubt a result of New York’s substantial progress in vaccinating residents. On the day the ban was officially lifted, the state health department announced that 62 percent of New Yorkers aged 18 or older have now received the shot. The Health Department also reminded New Yorkers that mass vaccination sites are now open to all eligible residents for walk-in vaccinations on a first come first serve basis. “As we hit a major milestone in reopening our state, it’s important to remember that our progress on vaccinations has been a key component in making this big comeback possible,” stated Cuomo.
While the end of the mask ban is no doubt a welcome relief to New Yorkers sick of the smell of their own breath, we at the Rockland Times are curious how many residents will prefer to uphold the mandate of their own volition. While almost half of the state population remains unvaccinated, full adherence to the CDC’s recommendations would mean leaving your mask on in most if not all indoor settings.