New York lifts most COVID-19 restrictions in 'return to life as we know it'

Times Square
(Image credit: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

New York, which was once the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, is officially lifting most of its coronavirus restrictions.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Tuesday that on this "momentous day", the state will immediately end almost all of its restrictions on businesses and gatherings that were put into place during the pandemic, The New York Times reports. The move came as New York reached its goal of vaccinating 70 percent of adults with at least one dose.

"What does 70 percent mean?" Cuomo said. "It means that we can now return to life as we know it. ... We can get back to living, and businesses can open because the state mandates are gone."

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Cuomo previously announced that "virtually all" restrictions in the state would be relaxed once New York reached the 70 percent vaccination milestone. Mask requirements, however, still remain in effect for K-12 schools, public transit, and healthcare settings, Cuomo said, citing federal CDC guidelines. Businesses will also be left to decide whether to end precautions including mask requirements, the Times notes.

To celebrate the milestone, Cuomo announced there will be fireworks "across the state" on Tuesday evening. The announcement came on the same day that California also lifted most COVID-19 restrictions, making it "one of the last U.S. states to reopen," The New York Times reports.

Though it was a celebratory day for both states, the moves to reopen came as the U.S. reached another grim milestone in the pandemic, passing 600,000 deaths from COVID-19.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.