NYC vaccine and school mask mandates end March 7, Mayor Adams says

The indoor vaccine mandate for restaurants, bars, and theaters in New York City along with the mask mandate in public schools will end on Monday, March 7, announced Mayor Eric Adams.

Speaking from Times Square Friday, Adams, who had said earlier this week he planned on lifting the mandates, added that cases remained low, warranting the change. 

Masks will still be required in all public transportation and healthcare settings regardless of vaccination status.

Children under the age of five, who are not yet eligible for vaccination, must continue to wear masks inside schools.

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More than 77% of eligible New Yorkers are vaccinated against COVID-19 andmore than 48,000 deaths were prevented by vaccines, according to outgoing NYC Health Commissioner David Chokshi, who also spoke at the briefing in Times Square.

Last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced an end to the state's school indoor mask mandate on Wednesday, March 2, citing a dramatic drop in infections and federal guidance. Districts can decide if they want to keep the mandate in place.

NYC school mask mandate

"We want to see the faces of our children. We want to see their smiles," the mayor said, adding that parents could continue to send their kids to school with face coverings if they wished.

The Democrat stressed that the mandates could be re-imposed if a new variant emerges that, like omicron, poses a special danger.

"If we see a rise in cases or hospitalizes, we are going to come back," said Adams.

Individual businesses can still decide to keep mandates in place if they choose, but the city will no longer require they check guests' vaccine cards.

The decision comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance that says most Americans can safely take a break from wearing masks, including students in schools.

The Broadway League has said it will maintain mask and vaccination requirements in all its theaters at least through April 30.

The CDC guidelines for other indoor spaces aren’t binding, meaning cities and institutions even in areas of low risk may set their own rules. Hochul said counties and cities could keep their own mandates in place, and parents could still choose to send their kids to school in masks.

New York State has 2.7 million schoolchildren, including about 1 million in New York City — the nation's largest school system.

With the Associated Press