Mayor Eric Adams announced Friday that several pandemic-era restrictions will soon be rolled back due to a decrease in COVID-19 transmission and cases. As of Monday, March 7, there will no longer be an indoor-mask mandate in city schools or a vaccine requirement to visit local businesses. An ongoing vaccine mandate for private-sector employees will stay in the meantime.
“It’s time to reopen our city,” Adams said, speaking from Times Square.
Restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues will no longer be required to ask patrons for proof of vaccination as part of the Key to NYC program. Individual businesses will be allowed to implement a requirement if they wish.
K-12 students in New York City public schools will no longer have to wear masks indoors. Adams said that masks will be available for students and staff who want one and children who still wish to wear a mask in class will be allowed to do so.
“If you feel comfortable in wearing your mask, feel free to do so. I from time to time wear mine until we get to a point where we can wean off and get the comfortability that we want,” he said.
Masks will still be required for children under the age 5 since they are unable to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at this time. Schools will keep several mitigation efforts in place, including the distribution of at-home tests, increased ventilation, and screening for symptoms.
The mayor also unveiled a new color-coded alert system for COVID-19 with colors representing different levels of community spread of the virus. A low level of spread will be green, whereas a high or very high level of spread will be represented by orange and red respectively. Certain alert levels could see a return to past public-health policies, such as reinstating the Key to NYC program.
“COVID changes. It shifts. It modifies. We must be open to do the same and be unafraid to do so in the process,” Adams said. “And if we see a rise in cases or hospitalizations, we’re going to come back.”