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(Most) Remaining COVID Restrictions Lifted in New York – A Trend Sweeping the Country

Proving that there is light at the end of the tunnel, New York Governor Cuomo announced earlier today most remaining COVID-19 restrictions are to be lifted immediately.  This announcement came as no surprise as the Governor had announced last week these restrictions would be lifted once 70% of adult New Yorkers had received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.  Last week, the state was at a 69% vaccination rate.  As a result, New York Forward’s Industry Guidance (this is the name of the state’s COVID protocols) will now be optional in most commercial settings.  Restrictions being lifted include:

  • Capacity Restrictions,
  • Social Distancing,
  • Cleaning and Disinfection,
  • Health Screening, and
  • Contact Information for tracing purposes.

The commercial settings covered by this announcement include the following:

  • Retail,
  • Food Services,
  • Offices,
  • Gyms and Fitness Centers,
  • Amusement and Family Entertainment,
  • Hair Salons and Barber Shops,
  • Personal Care Services and Other Commercial Settings.

However, a few venues will be exempt from this new order and will still be required to adhere to the State’s existing COVID-19 health protocols including:

  • Large-Scale Event Venues,
  • Pre-K to 12 Schools,
  • Public Transit,
  • Homeless Shelters,
  • Correctional Facilities,
  • Nursing Homes and Health Care Settings.

Unvaccinated individuals will still be required to maintain social distancing of six feet and wearing a mask, per Federal CDC Guidance.


As a result of the Governor’s announcement, businesses will now be free to choose whether to continue to adhere to the State’s prior guidance or implement other (or no) health precautions. It will be up to individual businesses to choose whether they require masks and six feet of social distancing for vaccinated employees and patrons within their establishments. For employers, it is important to remember any mask requirements that you elect to maintain/implement must adhere to applicable federal and state laws and regulations (e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act).

The Department of Health continues to strongly recommend masks and six feet of social distancing in indoor settings where vaccination status of individuals is unknown.

At this time, only about ten states have remaining  COVID protocols.  If your state is one of the few that hasn’t yet removed its protocols, it may soon.  Before you make any changes or decisions involving COVID protocols for your business, be sure to check the mandates of your state. 

The subject matter of COVID-19 posts are often very technical. It is also an evolving area of science and law and very fact specific. Our goal here is to simply alert you to some of the key issues involved. We urge you to seek competent legal counsel before applying these ideas to your specific situation. Since March 2020, we have had a team of attorneys focusing on COVID-19 related developments and they continue to stand ready to help you with any issues involving the pandemic.