ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Today is the day.

Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a target date of May 19 for a “major reopening” initiative for New York state, including:

  • Most capacity restrictions lifted for restaurants, museums, retail, offices, etc.
  • Outdoor food and beverage curfew lifted Monday
  • Indoor food and beverage curfew lifts May 31
  • Outdoor gathering limit has increased to 500
  • Indoor gathering limit increased to 250
  • Indoor residential gathering limit increased to 50
  • New York state’s adoption of CDC guidance on masking and distancing for fully vaccinated Americans

Additionally, the outdoor food and drink service curfew was lifted Monday, with indoor food and drink service curfew scheduled to be lifted at the end of the month. Those lifted curfews will be in effect for catered events statewide as well.

Furthermore, Wednesday marks the New York state’s official adoption of the new CDC guidance on masking and distancing for fully vaccinated Americans.

The new guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters but will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues — even removing the need for masks or social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated. The CDC will also no longer recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks outdoors in crowds.

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

The governor said individual private venues still have the ability to add additional guidelines to existing state and federal guidance should they choose to do so.

“We took a couple of days to analyze what it would be,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We aligned it with our guidance, we’re announcing that today. We’re then giving vendors, local government notice today. It goes into effect Wednesday, so they have a day to make adjustments. I’m sure they’ll say it’s too fast, they need more than a day, but that’s where we are.”

The governor said he expects that many people will continue to wear masks even if they are fully vaccinated as people adapt to this next phase of the pandemic.

“”This has gone beyond government rules and regulations,” Gov. Cuomo said. “People have inculcated this [mask] into their psyche. I’ve had more people ask me ‘are you saying I can’t wear a mask anymore? Because I still want to wear a mask.’ I suspect there will be a lot of people who are not just going to flick a switch and be over this. I think there is going to be lingering concern. And I think you’ll see a lot of people wearing masks going forward, but it is up to the private vendor, or venue.”

There are some caveats in the new CDC guidance. Officials encouraged people who have weak immune systems, such as from organ transplants or cancer treatment, to talk with their doctors before shedding their masks. That’s because of continued uncertainty about whether the vaccines can rev up a weakened immune system as well as they do normal, healthy ones.

Masks will still be required on public transportation, in nursing homes, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, schools, and health care facilities.

The governor released the following statement Wednesday:

“Today is a milestone in New York state’s war against COVID. With positivity and hospitalization rates at their lowest levels since last fall, and more than 10 million New Yorkers having received at least one vaccine dose, today New York State is adopting the CDC’s updated guidance on masks and social distancing. 

This means that, 399 days after New York was the first state in the country to implement a mask mandate, effective today, fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to use a face covering in most public places. New York is coming back, and it’s a testament to the strength and grit of New Yorkers who banded together, stayed tough, and fought as one to defeat this COVID beast.

The steps we’re taking today don’t mean that COVID has been officially relegated to the history books. We need to stay vigilant, continue to follow the safety guidelines in place, and help every single eligible New Yorker get vaccinated, so that we can finally reach that light at the end of the tunnel. And as we start to climb the next mountains in our path, we need to ensure that the values that got New York through this crisis — community, discipline, strength, toughness, and love for each other — endure.”

According to the CDC, if you’ve been fully vaccinated:

  • You can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.
  • You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
  • If you travel in the United States, you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
  • You need to pay close attention to the situation at your international destination before traveling outside the United States.
    • You do NOT need to get tested before leaving the United States unless your destination requires it.
    • You still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the United States.
    • You should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel.
    • You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
    • However, if you live or work in a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.