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New York to let COVID-19 state of emergency expire

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

ALBANY (AP) — New York will lift more COVID-19 restrictions when the state of emergency expires later this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.

New Yorkers will still have to wear masks on public transit, hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities and homeless shelters, in accordance with federal guidance.

But Cuomo’s announcement Wednesday means public meetings, for example, no longer must occur virtually.

“Fighting COVID & vaccinating New Yorkers are still top priorities, but the emergency chapter of this fight is over,” Cuomo tweeted.

It’s the governor’s latest announcement about lifting COVID-19 restrictions at a time when rates of new positives are dipping to record lows as more New Yorkers get vaccinated. And it follows months of pushback from Republicans and business groups who have called for Cuomo’s executive power to be reigned in.

Cuomo already has the power to temporarily suspend or change laws in a state of emergency.

Cuomo had been extending the state of emergency since spring 2020, when lawmakers gave the governor the power to start passing statewide COVID-19 mandates without needing legislative approval.

Earlier this year, lawmakers curtailed those powers: Cuomo has largely been limited to extending or tweaking existing COVID-19 orders.

In past weeks, conservatives and advocacy groups have increasingly pushed Cuomo to repeal the remaining COVID-19 restrictions. The New York State Association of Realtors, for example, urged Cuomo to let the state of emergency expire so realtors could once again conduct telemarketing cold calls.

“There is a critical housing shortage and this ban is making it worse by stopping us from developing new listings,” reads a call for action on the group’s website. “It’s overdue to end this counterproductive restriction.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.

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