New York nears 70% vaccination benchmark

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New York is quickly approaching a milestone when it comes to vaccination efforts. Gov. Cuomo announced last week that most restrictions will be lifted that when 70% of adult New Yorkers receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The state stands at 69.9% as of Monday morning.

The governor’s announcement is big news for businesses in the Capital Region. Once the 70% benchmark is hit, social distancing, cleaning and disinfection, health screenings, and providing information for contact tracing will all become optional in most settings. The required guidance will be lifted for retail, food services, offices, gyms, amusement parks, hair salons, and barbershops.

For many restaurant owners in the Capital Region, it is a big relief. Dominick Purnomo, owner of Yono’s and dp An American Brasserie in Albany, was thrilled when he heard the governor’s announcement.

"For us personally, revenue was down 50% in 2020. That’s a big hole that we have to dig out of," Purnomo said. "There’s certainly a tremendous amount of relief."

He says the dropped social distancing requirement is a game changer for small restaurants in the Capital Region.

"When we went from 50% to 75%, you couldn’t add a single chair because of the six-foot regulation," Purnomo explained. "So now to have that dropped, and to be back to 100%…not only is it exciting for people to have that sense of community together, but it makes sense for revenue generating ways that restaurants can get back to making up what was lost in 2020."

Purnomo says he’s most looking forward to focusing his attention on the customers and not the restrictions.

"That’s been the hardest thing, for people to come in and us having to regulate masks, or the six feet, or the food with the alcohol. The list goes on and on," he said. "The last of the restrictions being dropped are certainly a sense of accomplishment."

Not all industries will be able to drop the restrictions though. Large-scale events will still need to abide by the state’s existing COVID-19 restrictions. These include things like public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, health care settings, and pre-K to grade 12 schools. In these settings, anyone who has not been vaccinated will still have to follow social distancing and must keep wearing a mask.