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Fully vaccinated New Yorkers can go maskless as mandate ends

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced New York state would adopt the CDC's new mask and social distancing guidance starting today.

News 12 Staff

May 19, 2021, 10:00 AM

Updated 1,130 days ago

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Today is a turning point in the Hudson Valley’s quest to return to pre-pandemic living as fully vaccinated New Yorkers will no longer need to wear a mask at most places.
A mask mandate went into effect across the state last April, but earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced New York state would adopt the CDC's new mask and social distancing guidance starting today.
Unvaccinated people should continue to wear a mask and social distance, but if you are vaccinated the CDC says you are safe to go without a mask and you don't have to worry about social distancing. However, masks are still required for all people on public transit, nursing homes, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, schools and health care facilities all across the state. How can you tell if a person not wearing a mask is actually vaccinated? It's all on the honor system, and this will of course take a little getting used to for business owners and the general public as people decide mask on or mask off.
The state is not planning to monitor if businesses are checking customers' vaccination records, saying it's up to each business to protect customers.
News 12 has gotten mixed responses from businesses on how they plan to handle the change. Some say they'll check vaccine cards, while others are going by the honor system. "If you're fully vaccinated and you provide us proof, and we put it in our database in your membership file, you will be able to work out without a mask," says Vira Dinota, the manager at The Westchester Gym.
"We're probably not going to start going up to people enforcing and asking them if they're vaccinated," says Stephen Berg, the co-owner of the Iron Tomato.
While some businesses are still asking customers to cover up, others like Stew Leonard's in Yonkers made the decision to let folks show their faces. "According to the CDC guidelines, if you want to wear a mask, you can. If you feel comfortable, by all means come in without a mask," says Felix Rodriguez, of Stew Leonard's. Masks are still required for all people in nursing homes, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, schools and health care facilities all across the state. People riding public transit must also mask up. Some people tell News 12 they're comfortable taking it off. "I believe the vast majority of people are being responsible about it or would like to believe they're being responsible, so I don't feel unsafe with the mask down," says Marisa Levy, of New Rochelle.
Others say not just yet. "I'd rather be safe than sorry. In the house, at home, I'll take it off. Other than that, I want to keep it on," says Sam Ritti, of Yonkers. Those who are unvaccinated are required to wear a mask in public, but how can you tell if a person not wearing a mask is actually vaccinated? It's all on the honor system.
At Stew Leonard's, they're hoping folks will do the right thing. "We don't want to police this thing. Right now, we want our customers to feel happy and safe," says Stew Leonard's Yonkers Vice President Christian Cruz.
Cruz says staff will be wearing masks until at least Memorial Day.


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