ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Gov. Cuomo called June 15 the day that New York rose again after he relaxed nearly all COVID restrictions in the state. Last night, the CDC announced New York reached the 70 percent benchmark to remove “virtually all” guidance. Local experts and the Governor warn the pandemic is far from over.
He 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
Unvaccinated New Yorkers still need to wear masks per New York State and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
“We still need to be diligent. The masks still need to be worn for those who are not vaccinated,” Darlene Smith, Steuben County public health director, added.
COVID guidance and mandates still apply to health care facilities, public transport, and schools. Some residents are not on board with requiring masks, especially for kids.
“I’ve never been concerned about the social distancing. I think wearing masks for anyone is a complete waste,” Karen Bonsignore of Big Flats said.
A sign of relief for businesses that are still recovering. Workers and owners are saying they are still missing some of their regular customers.
“We’re still nowhere near where we used to be. Some of our customers got comfortable going elsewhere,” Brenda Hurley, a server at Lights Bakery, continued.
For local sports teams, the last 14 months have been a challenge, especially when their teams play in front of limited fans.
“We’re excited that people can be safe and they feel confident coming in here. The fans have been great and patient and we’re just happy it’s all open back up again,” Elmira Pioneers Owner Robbie Nichols said.
Local residents question if New York is ready for this step, which may be an uncomfortable and slow return to pre-pandemic norms.
“It’s kind of hit or miss. I do believe the younger public is [ready], but the older generation, some are comfortable and some are not,” Hurley added.
The message from the Governor is a welcomed change that many are ready to embrace.
“It’s a benchmark. It’s a milestone, but we still have more work to do,” Smith concluded.