New York state is poised to rescind a series of COVID-19 mandates; however, several pandemic restrictions will remain in place.
On Feb. 27 Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that face coverings will no longer be required in schools as of Wednesday, March 2.
In addition, vaccine requirements in New York’s five boroughs will be relaxed, however an order mandating public employees to be vaccinated or lose their job will remain in place.
Hochul’s announcement comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Feb. 25 that it would be relaxing its masking guidelines stating that most U.S. counties no longer meet the threshold to mandate face coverings in public spaces.
Going forward, the agency says it will consider the risk COVID-19 poses to individual communities based on the number of severe cases and hospital admissions in the region before issuing masking recommendations.
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While most mask mandates for indoor settings, including shops, grocery stores, offices, apartment building common areas and entertainment facilities, were rescinded in mid-February, individual companies can still set their own rules concerning masking.
For instance, theatergoers are still required to mask up and be vaccinated should they wish to attend a Broadway show until at least April 30.
While the mask mandate for school settings was lifted on March 2, individual municipalities can still mandate face coverings if they chose.
New York City mayor, Eric Adams, said last week that students in the city will no longer be required to wear a face mask while engaging in outdoor activities and on March 7 he said the mask mandate will be lifted entirely unless there is a sudden spike in cases.
In a statement Adams said, “At the end of this week, we will evaluate the numbers and make a final announcement on Friday. If we see no unforeseen spikes and our numbers continue to show a low level of risk, New York City will remove the indoor mask mandate for public school children,” the New York Post reported.
Where are masks still required?
Regardless of a person’s vaccination status, masks will remain mandatory on all public transportation including taxis and in congregate-care settings including nursing homes, correctional facilities and homeless shelters.
Face coverings are still required in any health care setting including hospitals.
Children aged 2 and above in daycare programs are also mandated to wear masks as are staff of the facilities due to a separate order from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that remains in effect.
What about vaccine mandates?
The “Key2NYC” program, implemented by former New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, that required proof of vaccination to enter indoor restaurants, gyms, entertainment venues and select meeting spaces is scheduled to end on March 7 barring a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases, Adams said.
In a Statement, issued on Sunday Feb. 27 Adams said that “all other vaccine mandates in New York City will remain in place at this time as they are, and have been, vital to protecting New Yorkers.”
Teachers, sanitation workers, and police officers will still need to be vaccinated in order to keep their jobs and all in-person private sector workers still require a jab in order to work.
Any person who works in the presence of at least one other person must be vaccinated and the location of the work includes “any location” including a vehicle.
Companies in contravention of the policy risk fines starting at $1,000 that increase with subsequent infractions.