UPDATE, 9:10 p.m.: Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday night that despite the CDC’s updated mask guidance, New York State would not end its mask mandate at this time.

“In New York, we have always relied on the facts and the science to guide us throughout the worst of this pandemic and in our successful reopening,” Cuomo said. “We have received the newly revised guidance from the CDC regarding mask wearing and social distancing for those with vaccinations and are reviewing them in consultation with Dr. Zucker and our partners and health experts in surrounding states.”


TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—While local guidance has yet to officially change, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which has led the response to the COVID-19 pandemic nationally, has lifted its mask guidance for people who are fully vaccinated. Those who are not fully vaccinated should “keep taking all precautions.”

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Thursday.

The CDC stated Thursday that people who have received their full vaccination “can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.” More explicitly, the center said that people can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying six feet apart, “except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

Meaning you can unmask if you’ve been fully vaccinated and whatever location you are in does not have a mask mandate. The CDC does not explicitly state that people should not cause a scene about having to put on their mask when entering a business that requests it or when otherwise required to do so, but it seems implied.

Eyes now turn to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and public health officials to see if the mask mandate statewide and locally will remain in place or be reduced or taken away.

“It’s good news as another step forward,” said Tompkins County Public Health Director Frank Kruppa to the Ithaca Voice. “We will await guidance changes by [New York State].”

Defined by the CDC, fully vaccinated means “two weeks after their second dose in a two dose series, like Pfizer or Moderna vaccines,” or “two weeks after their single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Editor in Chief at The Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.org.