ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Bob Duffy held a press conference Tuesday to discuss the lift of state mandated COVID-19 restrictions.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier Tuesday that 70% of New Yorkers 18 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, triggering the lift of many remaining restrictions.
“Overall I think we’re in a really good place because people have followed the rules for the most part,” Duffy said. “We’re all tired of COVID, we’re all tired of the restrictions and all the things that have impacted our lives.”
The governor announced that, effective immediately, all state-mandated COVID restrictions are lifted across commercial and social settings, including:
- Sports and recreation
- Child care
- Food services
- Real estate
- Amusement and family entertainment
- Personal care services
- Movie theaters
“Effective immediately, commercial, social, construction — all across the board, businesses are open,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Capacity restrictions, cleaning and sanitizing protocols are gone. It’s up to individuals and places. The CDC and federal guidelines are there for public transit and younger school grades.”
“Today’s announcement has been met with a great degree of happiness and joy,” Duffy said.
There will be exceptions to the state’s rollback, including federal guidelines that stay in place: COVID-19 health protocols will still be in place for large-scale event venues, schools pre-k to 12th grade, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and health care facilities. Unvaccinated people would still be required to keep a social distance of six-feet and wear a face mask.
While some federal restrictions remain, Duffy said Tuesday’s lift of state guidance was welcome, especially for folks getting married.
“We’re in the heart of wedding season,” Duffy said. “I can’t tell you how many calls we’ve gotten since the spring of last year about weddings and restrictions — those are gone. We wouldn’t be here unless people were so responsible with all the rules and getting vaccinated.”
Duffy said some lessons learned during the pandemic may help mitigate damaged done by the next flu season.
“Maybe we don’t go full throttle next flu season if we don’t have to,” Duffy said. “I think we’ve learned some things do matter.”
Duffy said he was hopeful some local festivals that have canceled this year might reconsider, but says he understands that organizers need months in advance to coordinate those events.
Duffy added that people may continue to wear masks at venues for the foreseeable future as they adapt to the ever-changing pandemic situation.
The following state landmarks will be lit in blue and gold tonight, June 15, in honor of reaching this COVID milestone:
- Empire State Building
- One World Trade Center
- Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
- Kosciuszko Bridge
- The H. Carl McCall SUNY Building
- State Education Building
- Alfred E. Smith State Office Building
- State Fairgrounds – Main Gate and Expo Center
- Niagara Falls
- The “Franklin D. Roosevelt” Mid-Hudson Bridge
- Grand Central Terminal – Pershing Square Viaduct
- Albany International Airport Gateway
- MTA LIRR – East End Gateway at Penn Station
Fireworks will be held at the following sites across the state, beginning at 9:15pm tonight, June 15:
- Albany: Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12228
- Binghamton: Binghamton University M Lot, 4400 Vestal Parkway E, Vestal, NY 13850
- Jones Beach: Jones Beach State Park, 1 Ocean Parkway, Wantagh, NY 11793
- Lake Placid: Lake Placid Club, Lake Placid, NY 12946
- New York City: New York Harbor
- Niagara Falls: Niagara Falls State Park, Goat Island Road, Niagara Falls, NY 14303
- Nyack: Memorial Park, 4 Depew Ave., Nyack, NY 10960
- Rochester: Rochester Dome Arena, 2695 E. Henrietta Rd, Henrietta, NY 14467
- Syracuse : NYS Fairgrounds, 581 State Fair Blvd , Syracuse NY 13209
- Utica : Downtown Utica. 100 Whitesboro Street, Utica, NY 13502
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.