Though there was already speculation it would be lifted, Governor Kathy Hochul announced this morning (February 9) that due to COVID-19 cases going down significantly, the requirement would no longer be in place or enforced. It will officially expire tomorrow, February 10.
The mandate was first enacted on December 13, as the omicron variant began to take over the state and city. It stated that “masks must be worn in all public indoor spaces unless a venue or business requires full vaccination for patrons and staff.” Originally set to expire January 15, it was then extended again as COVID cases were just reaching their peak.
Now, though, we are at 35 cases per 100,000 New Yorkers (seven-day average), according to Hochul.
We are not where we were in early December. New Yorkers did the right thing to get through the winter surge, and we can now lift the statewide mask-or-vaccine requirement for indoor businesses starting tomorrow.
Counties, cities and businesses can still choose to require masks. pic.twitter.com/jqFhBfRuTh
— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) February 9, 2022
It’s important to note, however, that New York City often creates its own mask and vaccination rules separate from the state. As Hochul said, counties, cities and businesses can still choose to require masks — so now it’s up to Mayor Adams to announce what NYC’s new policy will be. UPDATE: as of February 11, it appears the city is just recommending New Yorkers wear masks in public indoor settings, but not officially requiring it.
So, where are masks still required?
As Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine shared after the news was announced, the CDC’s mask recommendations are still in place for NYC, meaning they are required in healthcare settings, schools, and on mass transit like the subway.
Today's announcement by @GovKathyHochul means mask mandate is expiring in businesses that don't screen for vax. In NYC that includes:
— Mark D. Levine (@MarkLevineNYC) February 9, 2022
Here is the full listing from the city gov. Everyone, vaccinated or not, must wear a mask:
- When riding public transportation (including taxis and car services)
- When in a school
- When in a health care setting
- In certain group residential facilities, such as nursing homes and homeless shelters
- When in a store, restaurant or other public space where the owner or operator requires masks
- At work, if required by your employer
Hochul did clarify that the requirement for masks in schools would be reevaluated at the end of the month, after winter breaks. Neighboring New Jersey just lifted its own mask mandate in schools, as of March 7.
What about proof of vaccination?
What actually changed in NYC?
- You don’t have to wear masks in stores, bodegas, hotels, offices or other indoor places where proof of vaccine is not already required. Unless, that is, the business owner keeps that rule in place in their establishment.
- As for restaurants, museums, etc., as stated above, proof of vaccination is still required, but masks are technically not required. However, again, the business or institution could still require mask-wearing on its own.
- If you are unvaccinated, NYC requires you to wear masks in any public settings.
*Note: this article was updated from its original posting to include further clarifications on the new rules.