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New York to let vaccinated people ditch masks

Vaccinated New Yorkers can ditch their masks, even indoors, the New York City marathon is coming back and Radio City Music Hall will reopen to vaccinated audiences, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday in a flurry of announcements intended to accelerate the state's reopening.

“Let’s get back to life,” Cuomo said, speaking from Radio City Music Hall's grand auditorium. “If you are vaccinated, you are safe. No masks. No social distancing.”

After a delay of several days, Cuomo said the state is adopting new guidance on masks that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last week.

Unvaccinated and immunocompromised people must continue to wear a mask and maintain social distancing, but people who have completed their inoculation series no longer have to do either, starting Wednesday.

Masks will still be required for everyone in certain settings, like schools and nursing homes.

Cuomo made the announcement hours after overnight service on New York City's subways resumed for the first time in more than a year as the city continued its emergence from the coronavirus pandemic.

New cases of the virus have been plummeting statewide in recent weeks and are down 78% since the end of March.

The New York City Marathon, the governor said, will return on Nov. 7. For now, capacity is capped at 33,000 runners, but Cuomo said that restriction could change in coming months if things continue to improve.

Radio City Music Hall will reopen in June at full capacity — but only for vaccinated people — with a red carpet event for the TriBeCa Film Festival.

The city's two professional basketball teams, the Knicks and the Nets, will also be allowed to expand attendance capacity for upcoming playoff games, with a majority of seats set aside for people who have gotten vaccines.

The governor had previously announced that many restrictions on businesses will be loosened Wednesday, including rules that previously limited occupancy.

As for the subway's reopening, the first morning of uninterrupted train service went well, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Pat Foye said.

“We’re really happy to be bringing 24-7 service back,” Foye said on WINS radio. “It’s important to the economy of New York, restaurants, bars, nightclubs etc., getting patrons and employees to and from, and it’s also important psychologically.”

The system was shut down between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. starting April 30, 2020 so trains and stations could be disinfected. The overnight closure was scaled back to 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. in February.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that the city would be adding 250 more police officers to the subway system to battle a spike in crime, including several slashings last week.

Foye said the MTA would send 100 more of its own officers and 100 more private security contractors into the system to supplement the New York Police Department presence.