NY eases mask mandate for fully vaccinated people

Bins of complimentary face masks are available to passengers passing through security screening at Dallas Love Field on Thursday, Jan. 7. (Smiley N. Pool/Dallas Morning News/TNS)

JOHNSON CITY — The state eased its mask and face covering policy Tuesday for vaccinated people gathering outdoors to be in keeping with new federal guidelines, , Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention issued new national mask-wearing guidelines Monday that fully vaccinated people can exercise and attend small outdoor gatherings without wearing face masks.

New Yorkers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or have received both shots of Pfizer or Moderna’s injection, or one of Johnson & Johnson’s inoculation, also do not have to wear facial coverings in small gatherings of people or when participating in outdoor activities.

“For New Yorkers fully vaccinated when you are outside biking, hiking or running, you don’t need to wear a mask,” Gov. Cuomo said Tuesday during a COVID-19 briefing at SUNY Binghamton. “That is liberating — especially as the weather is getting warmer.”

People become fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving their last COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to the CDC.

The department loosely defines small gatherings as events like dinners and social gatherings.

The CDC stresses masks should continue to be worn by people who are not fully vaccinated in all public spaces.

Gov. Cuomo thanked the CDC for the updated guidelines.

“We’re making progress, people are getting vaccinated, positivity is coming down, but 26 people died [yesterday] and people will die today from COVID, so remember this is still a serious threat.”

Risk of COVID-19 transmission significantly reduces outdoors, but CDC science shows vaccinated people gathering with other people vaccinated against the disease is the only way to be certain the virus will not spread.

All New Yorkers ages 16 and older can walk in to any state-run mass vaccination site and receive a vaccine without an appointment starting Thursday. The state is also permitting local and county sites to open to walk-in appointments this week.

Walk-in appointments are for first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine only and will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, Cuomo said. Second doses are scheduled automatically after the first shot is administered.

New Yorkers are getting vaccinated at slower rates compared to earlier this year when appointments were difficult to obtain. The state was distributing 175,000 vaccines every 24 hours last month. The rate has reduced to 115,000 every 24 hours, Cuomo said.

“The demand is reducing — fewer people are asking for appointments,” the governor said. “...So for the people who felt, ‘Well, I’m not comfortable going on the Internet, I don’t want to call, I don’t want to talk to a lot of people,’ all the obstacles are removed, all the barriers are removed. Just show up and roll up your sleeve, and the mass vaccination sites have capacity to handle it.”

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine and where to get your dose, visit covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov.

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