New York State mask mandate is lifted

A blue paper mask lies on the sidewalk.

Matti Blume

New York State lifts the mask mandate.

New York State Governor Hochul announced on February 9, 2022, that the statewide indoor mask mandate would expire on February 10, 2022, and that she has decided not to reinstate the mandate to require masks in indoor facilities. The vaccine requirements have also been lifted for indoor businesses, but it is the personal decision of individual establishments on whether or not they will voluntarily enforce the mandate.

As Governor Hochul begins the new phase of response to COVID-19, she has decided that her focus is to, “Keep New York safe, open and moving forward,” which is the slogan of the Winter Toolkit. She has been focusing on increasing vaccinations and boosters and strengthening the health care system. It has become a priority for Hochul to empower local leaders and to support the individuals facing the long-term effects of the pandemic.

The mask mandate was created as a response to the spike in statewide cases in December during the rise of the Omicron variant. However, the number of COVID-19 cases has dramatically decreased as well as the reports of hospitalizations. Hochul believes there is no longer the need for New York State businesses to enforce the mask mandate or vaccine requirements.

Ever since the everlasting effects of the Omicron surge, facilities such as the CDC have been keeping track of the number of COVID cases and giving weekly reviews of their data. They have even launched COVID-19 Community Levels so that people can create prevention plans based on the most accurate data.

“I want to thank the health care workers, business owners and everyday New Yorkers who acted responsibly during the Omicron surge by masking up and getting vaccinated. 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,” said Governor Hochul as she addressed the new phase of response to COVID-19.

Many high-density settings, such as healthcare facilities regulated by the Department of Health, have decided to keep the mask requirements intact. Nursing homes, adult care facilities, homeless shelters, and public transportation still enforce the indoor mask mandate in order to follow the COVID-19 guidelines.

The state has also made mask-wearing optional in schools, leaving the decision to voluntarily enforce the indoor mask mandate up to the individual school districts. Although  schools will continue to track the spread of the virus, the massive decrease in COVID cases has led to this change in guidelines. School districts, including the Fayetteville-Manlius School District, will continue to encourage social distancing and maintaining proper hygiene.

Even though the temporary measure of requiring mask-wearing in indoor facilities is no longer necessary, the pandemic persists and we need to work together in order to move forward while keeping everyone safe.