BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – New York’s state of emergency expired Thursday. That means nearly all remaining restrictions of modified rules are gone or go back to the way they were.
But you’ll notice on New York State’s website, five categories of guidance are still “active.”
State Senator George Borrello says they should be done away with.
“People from new York state, whether you’re a school superintendent or a parent, whether you’re a business owner or a member of law enforcement, we have to demand this, and demand this of the majority in both the Assembly and the Senate, and the Governor,” Borrello said.
The active guidance includes fairs and festivals, for which organizers still have to notify health departments.
Large indoor event venues still have capped capacities.
People taking public transportation still must wear masks.
The one that still has New Yorkers most frustrated is that for students: It still requires kids to wear masks most of the day at school. State Senator Sean Ryan believes this will change,
“Lot of room between now and September. And as long as NYS, Erie County, the nation…as long as we keep getting healthier, it’s my prediction that by September, there will be no rules about school; we will be able to reenter schools just like any other year,” Ryan said.
Both Ryan and Borrello acknowledged there is confusion about the rules in schools, especially as the school year now comes to an end.
“This type of ambiguity, and the fact that is has been supported by the majorities in both the Senate and the Assembly is only adding fuel to the fire,” Borrello said.
So if the state of emergency expired, why do these guidelines remain?
The state Department of Health puts it on the CDC, writing in a statement to News 4 that guidelines are still in effect for schools among other places, like prisons, nursing homes, and shelters, because that’s what the CDC still recommends. As stated in the press release, here
“Unvaccinated individuals continue to be responsible for wearing masks, in accordance with federal CDC guidance. Consistent with the State’s implementation of the recent CDC guidance, masks are still required for unvaccinated individuals. Further, the State’s health guidelines continue to be in effect for large-scale indoor event venues, pre-K to grade 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, and health care settings per CDC guidelines.”
Jill Montag, Director of Communications
Some accuse the governor of still trying to hold onto power.
“I would say that the Governor and the Department of Health have weaponized the CDC recommendations. Again, these are recommendations, the Governor’s office is hanging them as mandates, and they’re not,” Borrello said.
Ryan explained it differently.
“The state Department of Education can still make rules and recommendations, but it’s no longer the governor making unilateral announcements,” Ryan said.
There’s no set timeline for these to expire. A health department spokesperson said some will go away when more people are vaccinated.
Another popular topic remains alcohol to go. Borrello said he’s hoping the legislature might vote on that in a possible special session this summer.
Erica Brecher is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.