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NY to keep mask rules, but other COVID rules will ease Wednesday

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File photo/Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo
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On Wednesday, many COVID-19 pandemic restrictions will end in New York, including capacity restrictions for some sporting events, indoor gatherings, and offices. But Governor Andrew Cuomo, who set the date for the reopening earlier this month, is not yet ready to abide by new CDC guidelines that say fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks in most settings.

On May 19th, stores, restaurants, gyms and offices will no longer have capacity limits, but will only be restricted by the ability to maintain six feet of social distancing for everyone in an indoor space. Larger indoor events will still be capped at a maximum of 250 people.

Fully vaccinated people will be able to sit together at outdoor events, like baseball games, but there will still be six foot distancing limits for unvaccinated people.

Large outdoor stadiums will continue to be restricted to just one third of total capacity. And other public outdoor events will be capped at 500 people.

The rules will also be eased for gatherings inside private homes. Now up to 50 people can be together indoors, and there will be no more restrictions on how many people you can invite to an outdoor gathering at your home.

Cuomo when he announced the partial reopening, said he wanted to do proceed with some caution.

“The key is smart reopening. Reopening is not a light switch. We said this from the beginning, it's not fully closed. Close the light switch fully open the light switch,” Cuomo said. “It's a smart reopening. It's a measured reopening.”

Since that announcement over two weeks ago, the state’s infection rate has continued to decline, with Thursday’s rate at 1.01%, the lowest since October 10th. A reported 1,767 New Yorkers were in the hospital, and 25 died from the disease. Vaccinations are increasing, with 40%, or eight million state residents fully vaccinated though the vaccination rate has slowed in recent weeks.

And, the Centers for Disease Control have also eased mask restrictions for fully vaccinated people. The CDC says fully vaccinated people no longer have to wear masks in most situations, including outdoors, and in most indoor settings, and that they no longer have to socially distance.

But Cuomo, in a statement issued after the CDC announced the changes, says he wants to consult with his health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, and talk first to neighboring states.

Connecticut and Pennsylvania promptly lifted their outdoor mask mandates. New Jersey, and Massachusetts, like New York, are waiting a little longer.

The CDC says vaccinated Americans will still have to follow the rules in their states, and follow regulations established by businesses or in their workplaces.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.