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NY Gov. Hochul to end statewide indoor mask-or-vaccine mandate starting Thursday

(Albany, NY) – Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday that the statewide indoor business mask-or-vaccine requirement will be lifted starting Thursday, February, 10, and will remain optional for businesses, local governments and counties to enforce. This mandate was implemented on December 10 as statewide cases spiked as a result of a winter surge and the rise of the Omicron variant. With case counts plummeting and hospitalizations sharply declining, this mandate is no longer needed statewide, said Hochul. Counties, cities, and businesses will be able to opt into the mask-or-vaccine requirement if they so choose.

Masks requirements will remain in place in certain high-density settings. All health care settings regulated by the Department of Health and other related state agencies will continue to require masks. Masks will also be required in nursing homes, adult care facilities, correctional facilities, detention centers, homeless shelters, and domestic violence shelters, public transit and transportation hubs, as well as trains, planes and airports in accordance with federal regulations. 

Hochul also announced plans to assess the mask requirement in schools in early March to ensure students can continue learning in-person and in the classroom. The assessment will be based on public health data, including key metrics like cases per 100,000 residents, hospital admission rates, vaccination rates, global trends and pediatric hospitalizations. Plans are already underway to distribute two tests for every K-12 student ahead of midwinter break, and continue distribution the following week when students return to school. In the meantime, Governor Hochul has directed the Department of Health to work on preliminary guidance, with input from educators and parents, to keep students and teachers safe.