NEW YORK (WABC) -- Governor Andrew Cuomo announced New York state-mandated COVID restrictions on commercial and social settings will be lifted effective immediately -- and to celebrate, there were fireworks across the state Tuesday night.
"We have hit 70% vaccination," a triumphant Cuomo said Tuesday, meaning the state can "now return to life as we know it."
Any federal guidelines involving schools, health care and mass transit remain.
Cuomo said social gathering limits, capacity restrictions, social distancing, health screening, cleaning and disinfection protocols contact information for tracking have been eliminated.
Those considered commercial and social settings include the following:
- sports and recreation
- child care
- food services
- real estate
- amusement and family entertainment
- personal care services
- malls movie theaters
During remarks at One World Trade Center, in front of an obliging audience, Cuomo recalled darker days of frequent death and overwhelming caseload.
"What New York has done is extraordinary," the governor said.
He noted nurse Sandra Lindsey at Northwell Health on Long Island was the first American to get a shot of authorized COVID-19 vaccine six months ago.
"Congratulations to New Yorkers because they're the ones who did it," Cuomo said. "We're no longer in our homes disinfecting everything we can see."
New York state has crossed the 70% threshold for at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccinations.
The fireworks were held Tuesday night at 9:15 p.m. and were also meant to be a salute to essential workers.
Fireworks were held at the following sites across the state:
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12228
Binghamton University M Lot
4400 Vestal Parkway E
Vestal, NY 13850
Jones Beach State Park
1 Ocean Parkway
Wantagh, NY 11793
Lake Placid Club
Lake Placid, NY 12946
New York City
New York Harbor
Niagara Falls State Park
Goat Island Road
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
4 Depew Ave.
Nyack, NY 10960
Rochester Dome Arena
2695 E. Henrietta Rd
Henrietta, NY 14467
581 State Fair Blvd
Syracuse NY 13209
100 Whitesboro Street
Utica, NY 13502
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Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, is in support of Cuomo's decision.
"After 16 months of unprecedented devastation to New York's restaurants, bars, clubs inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it's monumental to join Governor Cuomo and leaders from around New York at 1 World Trade Center to officially lift restrictions on businesses and begin a new phase of the city's recovery," Rigie said. "This is a critically important step forward and remarkable day on a long road to recovery. Much more still needs to be done to support tens of thousands of struggling small businesses and workers in New York: top among those efforts is for the federal government to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund and provide local businesses the urgent relief they need."
Some state leaders, however, think the governor should use the money elsewhere instead of spending on fireworks.
"Like all New Yorkers, I welcome today's news that most remaining COVID restrictions will be lifted. I want to thank the thousands of frontline workers, healthcare professionals and countless others who helped us through this crisis and led us to this point. I would also like to recognize the many small businesses who fought to make it out of this pandemic and provided paychecks to millions of New York families during this difficult time," Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said in a statement. "Instead of taxpayer funded firework shows celebrating his own lack of leadership, the Governor should mark this occasion by ending the state of emergency and reinstating the Legislature as a co-equal branch of government. Only then can we fully repeal unnecessary restrictions like masks mandates for school children."
Landmarks were also lit in blue and gold Tuesday evening in honor of reaching the COVID milestone.
- Empire State Building
- One World Trade Center
- Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
- Kosciuszko Bridge
- The H. Carl McCall SUNY Building
- State Education Building
- Alfred E. Smith State Office Building
- State Fairgrounds - Main Gate and Expo Center
- Niagara Falls
- The "Franklin D. Roosevelt" Mid-Hudson Bridge
- Grand Central Terminal - Pershing Square Viaduct
- Albany International Airport Gateway
-MTA LIRR - East End Gateway at Penn Station
The Village of Nyack held fireworks in Memorial Park at 9 p.m., part of the celebration marking the end of COVID restrictions.
Sections of the park were closed starting at 1 p.m. to allow for the fireworks to be set up, including the skate park, basketball court, foot bridge, viewing platform, and gazebo area.
The playground and splash pad and upper field remained accessible.
At Jones Beach, the fireworks could be seen at Park at Field 4.
Cuomo had promised to do away with virtually all restrictions once the state hit that 70% milestone.
The remaining restrictions include indoor capacity limits, social distancing, and health screenings in offices, restaurants, theaters and fitness centers.
All of those will now be optional, but masks will still be required in some larger venues, on public transportation, and in hospitals and schools.
"It doesn't mean when we hit 70% it's over," Cuomo said Monday. "It means it's working. It means we're doing well, but it also means keep going. And that's what the celebration is going to be. It's not the finish line at 70, but we're coming around the last turn on the track."
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