Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.
New York City, which was the first city to require COVID-19 vaccinations for indoor spaces, will lift its mandate for businesses, indoor dining, and events on March 7.
The indoor mask mandate will also be lifted for public schools as long as coronavirus cases don’t spike this week as students return to classrooms after a midwinter break, according to The New York Times.
“New York City’s numbers continue to go down day after day, so as long as COVID indicators show a low level of risk and we see no surprises this week,” the city will lift requirements next week, Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement on Sunday.
“This will give business owners the time to adapt and will allow us to ensure we are making the best public health decisions for the people of New York,” he said.
The vaccination mandate, which was first announced in August, has required people to show proof of vaccination to enter most restaurants, bars, nightclubs, coffee shops, gyms, movie theaters, music venues, museums, sports arenas, and theaters
Adams has indicated for weeks that he wanted to end the requirements soon, saying he meets daily with public health experts who have provided benchmarks that the city should reach before lifting pandemic protocols. On Sunday, he promised a final decision by Friday about the plan to move forward with lifting restrictions on March 7.
Hours earlier, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the statewide mask mandate for schools would be lifted on Wednesday. She said individual districts could assess the need for restrictions and impose mask mandates at the local level.
“We are now entering a new phase of the pandemic,” she said in a statement on Sunday.
Hochul cited decreasing case numbers and high vaccination rates among adults and teens, noting that the mask mandate was an important public health measure during the Omicron variant surge.
“When I look back at what was going on just a short time ago, I am so happy that we did have a mask requirement in place for schools at the time,” she said. “That’s how we kept these numbers from getting even worse.”
That said, vaccine mandates in New York City for municipal workers and private employers will remain in place, according to the Times.
The New York Times: “New York City says it will end the school mask mandate and indoor vaccination requirements.”
City of New York: “Mayor Adams’ Statement on Mask Mandates in Schools, Vaccine Mandates Across NYC.”
New York State: “Governor Hochul Announces Plan to End State Mask Requirement in Schools Starting March 2.”