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New York, California set dates to implement new CDC mask guidelines

New York will adjust its mask guidelines for fully vaccinated people to match those released by the CDC last week on May 19. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New York will adjust its mask guidelines for fully vaccinated people to match those released by the CDC last week on May 19. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

May 17 (UPI) -- New York and California on Monday announced plans to alter their mask mandates to fall in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance regarding fully vaccinated people.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that on Wednesday, the state will alter its mandate to match the CDC guidance released last week, stating that people who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks outdoors or indoors except on transit, in healthcare facilities and other crowded areas.

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"New Yorkers have worked hard over the last year to prevent the spread of COVID and keep each other safe," Cuomo said in a statement. "That work has paid off and we are ecstatic to take this next step in the reopening of our beautiful state."

Cuomo added that businesses will be authorized to continue to require masks for all, while noting the New York Department of Health "strongly recommends" masks in indoor settings where the vaccination status of individuals is unknown.

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In conjunction with plans to remove limits on business capacities, Cuomo also announced that businesses may eliminate the space previously required to keep six feet of social distancing.

Small-scale events with 250 or fewer people indoors or 500 outdoors will also be able to apply revised mask and capacity rules but six feet of social distancing will be required between parties of attendees unless all attendees present proof of full vaccination status.

In California, officials announced the state would not alter its mask mandate until June 15, when the state plans to broadly lift its pandemic-related restrictions.

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California's health secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said the state wanted to give local governments, businesses and communities more time to determine how to implement the new guidelines.

"This is in no way saying that the science or direction of the CDC's guidelines is wrong. It's just giving us some extra time to have this implemented with a high degree of integrity," said Ghaly.

Multiple major U.S. retailers, such as Walmart, Costco and Starbucks, have also announced plans to no longer require fully vaccinated guests to wear masks in their establishments, where local guidelines allow.

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