Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions will effectively be lifted once 70 percent of New York residents ages 18 and older have received the first doses of their COVID vaccination series.

The state is currently at 68.6 percent vaccinated.

Cuomo says the state's New York Forward industry specific guidelines -- including capacity restrictions, social distancing, cleaning and disinfection, health screening, and contact information for tracing -- will become optional for retail, food services, offices, gyms and fitness centers, amusement and family entertainment, hair salons, barber shops and personal care services, among other commercial settings.

Large-scale event venues, pre-K to 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and healthcare settings must continue to follow the State's guidelines until more New Yorkers are vaccinated.

Businesses are also authorized to require masks and six feet of social distancing for employees and patrons within their establishments

Unvaccinated individuals will still have to wear a mask and maintain proper social distancing of six feet under CDC guidance.

"The lifting of our COVID restrictions is a sign of how hard New Yorkers have worked to contain the spread of the virus and protect their communities," Governor Cuomo said. "With numbers trending at record lows, it is clear that the vaccine is effective and that it is an invaluable tool against the virus. While we have come so far it is still imperative that those who have not received the vaccine do so, so that they may enjoy the state's reimagined reopening to the fullest extent possible."

The Governor says officials are now focused on zip codes where vaccine rates are low, as well as getting younger people vaccinated.

Governor Cuomo also announced today that school districts can choose to lift the requirement that their students wear masks outdoors.  He says guidance on wearing a mask indoors remains in place.

The change aligns New York guidance on schools with CDC guidance on summer camps, where even unvaccinated students are currently not required to wear masks outdoors.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

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