‘I can breathe in fresh air’; Locals react to mask mandate easing up

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In less than 48 hours, fully vaccinated people in New York will not have to wear a mask at all times when they are indoors or outdoors. These details are what so many people have been waiting to hear.

After more than a year of wearing a mask, the thought of going without one may seem strange. NEWS10 ABC went around downtown Albany Monday to see what people thought about the new restrictions starting on Wednesday.

“I would like to be free and take some fresh air,” said Andre McDermott.  

“It’s been over a year so I’m ready to have a little break from it,” said Mary Arthur.  

However, there are a few exceptions. The mandate includes wearing a mask on public transportation, at nursing homes, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, schools and health care facilities.

Some say they are ready for mask freedom while others need more time. 

“I’m still going to be wearing mine for my health and safety. I know some people still haven’t got vaccinated, and I have been vaccinated. I have been recuperating from cancer so for me it’s a medical issue when I go in public,” said Maura Mendel.

“I think everyone is at the point where they are a little frustrated. They want to breathe freely, and they just want to see their friends and facial expressions,” said Jason Pierce, owner of Savoy Taproom.

Pierce says he ready to say goodbye to the mask era, but it will come with some limitations. 

“As people come in, we are going to ask them if they have been vaccinated or not. We are going to retain the bar area for fully vaccinated people so we don’t have to worry about social distancing. The dining room will be available to anyone vaccinated or not and same with our outdoor patio,” said Pierce.

Best Fitness says they will continue to follow the 6 feet rule and members who are fully vaccinated can take masks off.

“When you walk through our doors and you don’t have a mask on we are going to assume that you’re vaccinated and you are following the protocols put in place by the CDC,” said Jason Thompson, general manger of Best Fitness.

The state says, for people who don’t show proof of vaccination, you still have to maintain social distance. Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the CDC say unvaccinated and immunocompromised people should still mask up and social distance.

“I did kind of expect some type of check in that was going to be required. You can’t just guess that someone has the vaccine or not, so I kind of understand it,” said Melissa Portalatin.

Governor Cuomo says if you’re fully vaccinated and still want to wear a mask, you may continue to do so.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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