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New York governor says school mask mandate will end Wednesday

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Sunday that the statewide school mask mandate will end Wednesday. Shortly afterward, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the vaccine mandate for bars, restaurants and theaters could end as soon as March 7.

The governor’s office said the decision to end the mask mandate was based on “the analysis of several key COVID-19 data trends and after consulting with health and education experts, as well as parents, teachers and school administrators.” 

The state’s mandate will be lifted, but local officials will still maintain the authority to require masks indoors, Hochul said. Parents and guardians may still choose to send their children to school in masks as well.

Hochul said the statewide COVID-19 positivity rate had reached its lowest level since the Omicron surge started this winter, and the state had the lowest positivity rate since July 2021, before school began. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks during the 2022 New York State Democratic Convention at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel on February 17, 2022 in New York City. 

Michael M Santiago/GettyImages / Getty Images

Additionally, New York will distribute more than 20 million tests to school districts across the state, the governor said.

Masks will still be required in some settings, including health care facilities, Hochul said. 

In New York City, Adams said he would make a decision on lifting the mask mandate in the city’s schools, the nation’s largest public school system, on Friday. He said he wanted to wait to make sure the numbers stayed low after students had been back in classes for a full week following the winter break. 

Adams said the city’s vaccine mandate for restaurants, bars and theaters could be lifted as soon as March 7, as long as the city’s COVID-19 cases continue to fall.

“We’re taking this week to give business owners the time to adapt while we monitor the numbers to ensure we are making the best public health decisions for the people of New York,” Adams tweeted

Vaccine mandates for New York City municipal workers remain in effect. 

Hochul and Adams’ announcements came just two days after the Centers for Disease Control said that masking and social distancing are only necessary in areas where the risk of infection is high. 

The CDC said Friday that residents of counties at “medium” risk — around 42.2% of the country’s population – should wear masks if they are at heightened risk of severe disease, like those who have compromised immune systems. People in counties at a “high” level — around 28.2% of Americans — should still wear a mask indoors, the CDC said.



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