New York City Set to Drop School-Mask Mandate and Vaccine Mandate for Indoor Venues

Students wear masks as they play in the gymnasium at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 on January 5. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Starting next week, two of New York City’s biggest pandemic restrictions will almost certainly come to an end following the steady drop of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations following the Omicron wave. Mayor Eric Adams announced Sunday that New York City’s face-mask mandate for schools and vaccine mandate for indoor public venues will both end on Monday, March 7, provided the city’s COVID-risk factors continue, as expected, to trend downward in the coming days. The news came shortly after New York governor Kathy Hochul’s announcement that the statewide mask mandate for schools will end this Wednesday, March 2 — at which point counties and cities will be able to set their own school-mask policies.

“If our numbers continue to show a low level of risk, we will remove the indoor mask mandate for public-school students,” Adams said in a statement. “We will also remove the vaccination requirements for Key2NYC — meaning indoor-dining, fitness, and entertainment venues.” He said that he and other city officials will review the risk data and make their final decision at the end of the week. The vaccine mandate for New York City employees will remain in effect.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines that advised that most Americans could now go mask free, provided they didn’t live in an area where the risk of catching COVID was still high. On Saturday, Hochul announced that the state’s seven-day test-positivity rate had fallen below 2 percent, and that the number of COVID hospitalizations in the state had fallen below 2,000 for the first time since November 14, before the Omicron wave. In her statement on Sunday, Hochul said she was grateful the school-mask mandate had been in place to protect children and educators from Omicron. “With more New Yorkers getting vaccinated, and the steady decline over the past several weeks in cases and hospitalizations from Omicron, we are now entering a new phase of the pandemic,” she explained. “Because New Yorkers have stepped up, we can confidently remove the statewide mask requirement in our schools.”

This post has been updated.

New York City Set to Drop Vaccine and School-Mask Mandates