Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in a coronavirus briefing last Thursday that he would not renew the state of emergency first declared on March 7 last year. Federal Centers for Disease and Control Covid-19 protocols will remain in effect, however.
The announcement came nearly a week after Cuomo lifted nearly all Covid-19 restrictions, including those for businesses, social settings, health screenings, and cleaning and disinfecting because 70 percent of all adult New Yorkers had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Paul Lizio, owner of Grand View Auto Body in Baldwin, said he hoped business would pick up, as the pandemic hurt his shop, with profit margins dropping as much as 70 percent at the height of the crisis. “With people moving,” he said, “more business comes . . . The weather is also helping people to get out more.”
As of June 28 in Nassau County, nearly 80 percent of residents 18 and over had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 65 percent of residents in total had one dose. Statewide, a little more than 11.4 million people had received at least one dose, amounting to roughly 71 percent of the total population.
The state is still warning its people to stay vigilant, as not everyone is yet vaccinated, including children 12 and under, and new Covid-19 strains continue to emerge, including the Delta variant. The state is expanding at-home vaccinations to include people of all ages, not only older adults.
According to federal guidance, New Yorkers will still have to wear masks in large indoor venues, public transportation, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, health care settings and pre-K to grade 12 schools, though the state Department of Health has not indicated whether that rule will apply for summer school. Unvaccinated adults will have to continue to wear masks, as well.
With the lifting of restrictions, the state once again prohibited alcohol to go, which had been permitted during the pandemic. Shawn Sabel, owner of The Irish Pub in Baldwin, said he didn’t push drinks-to-go during the pandemic. “We put 100 percent of our focus on food, and it elevated our menu,” he said, adding that the lifting of the 10 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants is what has jump-started business recently. “I’m ecstatic,” he said. “It's wonderful to come to work again since we are usually the last stop in everyone’s night.”
Cuomo said New York now has the lowest infection rate in the country, and at the start of the pandemic, it had the highest rate. He attributed the precipitous drop in infections to New Yorkers doing their part, in particular essential workers, saying New Yorkers “were smart, united and did what they had to do throughout this entire pandemic.”
The state is building a monument in Battery Park City to honor all essential workers, to be completed by Sept. 6. It will include a Circle of Heroes, composed of 19 red maple trees symbolizing the essential workers who carried New York through the pandemic, and an eternal flame engraved with, “Your spirit is still alive in us, and in our soul, and we will never forget.”
Likewise, Baldwin has been celebrating its essential workers. On June 17, Richard Rattan, the founder of Safe Health Educators, put up a permanent banner at his location at 2400 Grand Ave., he said, “to honor our hometown heroes to thank them for their service to our community.”