(AP) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that 70% of adults in New York have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, a threshold he said the state would celebrate by easing many of its remaining social distancing rules and shooting off fireworks.
“What does 70% mean? It means that we can now return to life as we know it,” Cuomo told an invitation-only crowd at the World Trade Center in Manhattan.
Effective immediately, he said, the state is lifting rules that had limited the size of gatherings and required some types of businesses to follow cleaning protocols or take people’s temperatures or screen them for recent COVID-19 symptoms.
Businesses will no longer have to follow social distancing rules, or limit how many people they can allow inside based on keeping people 6 feet (2 meters) apart.
Some rules will remain: New Yorkers, for now, will continue to have to wear masks in schools, subways, large venues, homeless shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, jails and prisons.
Cuomo, a Democrat, said there would be fireworks displays around the state to celebrate.
It’s unclear how many more people have to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity, which is when enough people have immunity that the virus has trouble spreading.
It’s unclear what that threshold is for the coronavirus, though many experts say it’s 70% or higher. Just half of all 20 million residents in New York are fully vaccinated, according to federal data as of Monday.
Over the past seven days, New York has been averaging around 450 new coronavirus cases a day, the lowest level since the pandemic began.