New York is officially back.
With 70% of the state's adult population having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, New York has lifted almost all of its pandemic restrictions.
Restaurants, bars, and New York City's famous museums no longer have to limit capacity, require social distancing, conduct health screenings, or collect information for contact tracing – though businesses do have the choice to continue protective measures if they wish.
"Not only do we have the lowest COVID positivity rate in the United States of America, we have hit 70% vaccination ahead of schedule," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in announcing the latest step toward normalcy in a place that was once the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.
"We're no longer just surviving – we're thriving," Cuomo said.
New York joins several states, including Vermont, California, Florida and Illinois, which have also lifted most if not all of their pandemic restrictions, as an increasing number of vaccinated Americans venture out after more than a year of lockdowns.
The U.S. has so far administered more than 309 million COVID-19 vaccines, driving down reports of new cases in many parts of the country. In New York City, nearly 60% of adults are fully vaccinated, while 65% have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to data from the city's health department. Statewide, nearly 70% of the population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, while half of the population is fully vaccinated.
In New York, pandemic restrictions remain in place in healthcare settings, on public transit, and at large indoor event venues that can hold 5,000 or more people (think Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn).
At large event venues, people with proof of vaccination are exempt from face mask requirements. Others must provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test and wear a face mask. But social distancing isn't required among tested or vaccinated attendees, meaning the concert mosh pits could be just around the corner.
Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets and walking on beaches. Find her on Facebook and Instagram.
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