New York Ends Mask Mandate But Leaves It in Place in Schools

by Samantha Whidden

On Wednesday (February 9th), New York Governor, Kathy Hochul, announced that the state will officially end its COVID-19 mask mandate that requires face covers in most indoor public places. However, the Governor reportedly states that the requirement will still be in place for schools. 

According to ABC News, the New York mask mandate was first put in place on December 10th for indoor places such as grocery stores, shops, officers. The mandate was announced due to the omicron variant beginning to infect large numbers of New Yorkers at the time. It was set to expire on Thursday (February 10th). But Hochul states that infection rates and hospitalizations have declined to a level where it is safe to rescind the mandate. 

“This fight is not over,” the New York governor declared from her New York City office. “We’re not surrounding. This is not disarmament. But again, the trends are very, very positive.”

Along with schools, masks will still be required in some places in New York. This includes healthcare facilities, certain types of shelters, and public transit. The Governor said that private businesses will be free to set their own masking rules for both employees and customers. Governor Hochul said that the state will revisit the mask mandate for schools during the first week of March. This is when children are expected to return following spring break. 

The news from New York comes just one day after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced he was ending the mask mandate for vaccinated folks in the Golden State. Unfortunately, the news also comes after the U.S. surpassed 900,000 in COVID-19 deaths.

Governor Kathy Hochul Announces New York’s New Winter Toolkit for New Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic 

Also on Wednesday, Governor Kathy Hochul announced New York’s new Winter Toolkit for the state’s new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a press release issued by the Governor’s office, the toolkit aims to keep New York safe, open, and moving forward. 

“The Winter Toolkit focuses on five core areas,” the press release states. “Protecting the most vulnerable New Yorkers; increasing vaccinations and boosters; strengthening our healthcare system; empowering local leaders; and supporting individuals facing the long-term effects of COVID.”

The New York Governor goes on to add that as the state begins a new phase in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, her top priority is making sure that the state is safe, open, and moving forward. “I want to thank the healthcare workers, business owners, and everyday New Yorkers who acted responsibly during the Omicron surge. By masking up and getting [the vaccine]. But make no mistake. While we’re moving in the right direction, this pandemic isn’t over. And our new Winter Toolkit shows us the path forward.”