Additional details on the State's New York Forward reopening guidance updates will be available here. Read the full announcement press release at governor.ny.gov here.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that beginning May 19, New York State will adopt the CDC's "Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People" for most business and public settings. Consistent with the CDC guidance, Pre-K to 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and healthcare settings will continue to follow State's existing COVID-19 health guidelines until more New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.
To implement the CDC's guidance, New York State will be revising the following reopening guidelines to take effect on May 19:
Business Mask Rules
Given that the CDC has advised that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks and over 52 percent of New Yorkers over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated, the State will authorize businesses to continue to require masks for all in their establishments, consistent with the CDC guidance. In most settings, vaccinated individuals will not be required to wear a mask. Unvaccinated individuals, under both CDC and state guidance must wear masks in all public settings.
The Department of Health strongly recommends masks in indoor settings where vaccination status of individuals is unknown. Mask requirements by businesses must adhere to all applicable federal and state laws and regulations.
This recommendation will apply across commercial settings, including retail, food services, offices, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barber shops and other personal care services, among other settings.
Business Capacity Rules
As previously announced, most business capacities — which are currently based upon percentage of maximum occupancy — will be removed on May 19. Businesses will only be limited by the space available for patrons or parties of patrons to maintain the required social distance of 6 feet.
However, given that the CDC has advised that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to maintain social distance, businesses may eliminate the 6 feet of required social distancing, and therefore increase capacity, only if all patrons within the establishment -- or a separate designated part of the establishment -- present proof of full vaccination status. Proof of full vaccination status can be provided by patrons through paper form, digital application, or the State's Excelsior Pass.
For areas where vaccination status of individuals is unknown and for patrons who do not present proof of full vaccination status, the required social distance of 6 feet still applies until more New Yorkers are fully vaccinated. This change will apply across all commercial settings, except the exempt settings outlined by the CDC.