Here are the COVID restrictions that ended in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut

Coronavirus Update for New York

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Thursday, May 20, 2021
Most COVID restrictions end in NY, NJ, and CT
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Jim Dolan has more on the COVID restrictions being lifted across the Tri-State.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Most coronavirus restrictions were lifted across the Tri-State area Wednesday, marking a big moment in the fight against COVID-19.

In New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, almost every business is allowed to operate 100% capacity. But there are some discrepancies between the states when it comes to masking mandates.

In New York and Connecticut, all fully vaccinated people can safely drop the mask and stop social distancing, even indoors and in large crowds. It's a different story in New Jersey, however.

New York

Capacity limits have been lifted, and there are no more mask or social distance requirements for those who are fully vaccinated. The question remains, though, how many businesses will adhere to the new CDC guidance.

Masks are still required for everyone in many settings, including public transportation, planes, hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters, and millions of unvaccinated New Yorkers still have to wear them in most public places -- though that is based on the honor system, which is a cause of concern for many.

Private businesses can still set rules that exceed state requirements, and it's up to that businesses or venues to decide how to check someone's vaccination status if they choose to do so.

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And in restaurants across New York, capacity limits are gone. If customers are vaccinated, restaurant and bar owners can pack them in.

"When the guests come through the door, it's going to the first question that we ask, 'Are you guys vaccinated? Can you prove it? Can you just show a quick bit of proof?'" one owner said. "And then, essentially, 'If you guys are happy enough to take your mask off, you're more than welcome to do so.'"

There's still apprehension among customers, though.

"It is going to be a little stressful, I think because you're so used to being careful and making sure you stay apart from everybody," one said.

We have learned that the CDC's mask mandates caught Governor Andrew Cuomo off guard, which he expressed in a private call obtained by ABC News.

Still, the governor aligned New York with the new guidance.

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New Yorkers themselves have differing opinions about whether they'll actually ditch the face coverings.

"As much as I love sporting events and concerts, I'm probably staying out of arenas for a little longer until we know how safe it is," one resident said.

And then there's the question of trusting others.

"Not knowing who's been vaccinated or not, that makes me a little nervous," another said. "So I will, even though I have been vaccinated, continue to wear my mask."

New Jersey

New Jersey has lifted capacity restrictions on most industries -- including restaurants, gyms, hair salons, casinos, and houses of worship -- but despite an end to the outdoor mask mandate for the fully vaccinated, indoor masking rules remain in effect.

That is because, according to Governor Phil Murphy, not enough of the state has been vaccinated, particularly those in urban areas.

"We are going to be able to take off our masks indoors in the not-so-distant future, as more and more people complete their vaccination courses," he said. "We just can't yet because we need to know unequivocally doing so will not lead to a backslide in our progress. Again, we have this virus on the run thanks to the millions of you out there."

Murphy also said the honor system is not an appropriate way to figure out who is vaccinated.

"We're not checking anyone's vaccine status at the door when you go to the supermarket or to a hardware store for instance," he said. "I don't know how we can expect workers to be able to tell who's vaccinated from who isn't, and it's unfair to put the burden on business owners and front line employees to police every patron."

Businesses still have to enforce social distancing or install barriers.

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Critics argue that he's not following the science and that those worried about getting COVID-19 should get vaccinated.


Connecticut returned to 100% capacity inside restaurants two months ago, though tables still had to be kept 6 feet apart, but that all changes Wednesday.

The state has now ended all COVID restrictions on businesses, and restaurants are back to full capacity with curfews lifted.

Masks are also no longer required both outdoors and indoors for the fully vaccinated.

"Indoor masking will still be required for the unvaccinated for a little bit longer," Governor Ned Lamont said. "I think that's the right thing to do. A lot of our stores, restaurants, said it gives their customers comfort, makes it a little easier for us to be clear. Unvaccinated people indoors still must wear the masks."

Densely populated states have other issues, but for those like Connecticut, with its high vaccination rate and relatively few urban areas, lifting mask requirements for fully vaccinated is an easier decision.

"Unless you are in a very tight area, one of those particularly large events, where I would still recommend it, especially to those who are unvaccinated," Lamont said.

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Businesses can still require masks if they want.

"I think every store, business, restaurant may have their own rules that way," he said. "At this point, I think people are going to self-attest. I hope we can count on them to do the right thing."

Connecticut's coronavirus positivity rate has been consistently low, and it has one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation, with 49% of residents fully vaccinated and 59% having received at least one dose.

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Mask guidance in the Tri-State area

New York City COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker

New Jersey COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker

How to get the vaccine in NYC, Tri-State area

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus

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