New York's state Capitol building, closed for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will reopen to the general public on Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced.
Tours of the building will begin again on Monday, Cuomo's office announced; the two tours will be held at 10 a.m. and noon. Outdoor tours of the Empire State Plaza will begin again on Wednesday, July 7.
Unvaccinated people will be asked to wear masks in the building as part of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
The building has been operating under restricted access since March 2020, open only to those who have access through a pre-approved state identification card. State lawmakers conducted the legislative session in some instances remotely, though some legislators voted in person in recent weeks.
"New Yorkers have worked hard against the COVID virus and as a result, landmarks and attractions across the state are reopening to visitors. We are thrilled to welcome New Yorkers and guests from afar back to our beautiful State Capitol and the amazing Empire State Plaza," Cuomo said. "The Capitol is filled with extraordinary history anyone can appreciate. While it was necessary to close its doors during the pandemic, it is time to welcome people back to its grand halls."
Republican state lawmakers had urged the Cuomo administration weeks earlier to reopen the building for the final weeks of the legislative session. Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay called the reopening announcement "long overdue."
"The public’s presence and voice plays an integral role in the functioning of state government and they never should have been excluded," Barclay said. "It is a shame that the building remained closed during the entire legislative session."