NEW YORK — With chants of “New York City is back,” onlookers gathered in Battery Park on Tuesday night as fireworks went off in New York Harbor, celebrating almost all COVID-19-related restrictions on businesses, gatherings and masks being lifted as the state’s partial vaccination rate for adults reached 70%.

Onlookers cheered and clapped as the fireworks went off and lit up the New York City skyline.

Simultaneously, firework shows were also being displayed in other parts of the state including Empire State Plaza in Albany, Binghamton University, Jones Beach, Lake Placid Club, Niagara Falls State Park, Nyack Memorial Park, the Rochester Dome Arena in Syracuse, the New York State Fairgrounds and Downtown Utica.

The celebrations were a release for many New Yorkers, 15 months after the worst of the pandemic brought much of the state's economy, recreation and society to a standstill and killed tens of thousands of New Yorkers.

Onlookers check out the fireworks celebration over New York Harbor. NY1/Shannan Ferry.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier in the day that the state had passed a crucial benchmark in its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic: 70% of adults in New York state have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC data showed the state reached the milestone Monday afternoon, and the state lifted most pandemic restrictions Tuesday, the biggest step forward yet to returning to normal life.

People look as fireworks explode over New York Harbor on on June 15, 2021. AP Photo/Craig Ruttle.


AP Photo/Craig Ruttle.

Now that nearly three-quarters of adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, capacity restrictions, social distancing rules, cleaning protocols, health screenings and contact tracing requirements will become optional for most places, including retail stores, restaurants, offices and gyms.

Unvaccinated people are still recommended to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

Some restrictions still will be in place at large venues, schools, public transportation, hospitals and nursing homes, and masks will still be required in certain situations, including mass transit, to align with CDC guidance.


This story includes reporting from Luke Parsnow.


Did you know you can now watch, read and stay informed with NY1 wherever and whenever you want? Get the new Spectrum News app here.