New York to lift statewide school mask mandate by March 2

Feb 27, 2022, 12:40 PM | Updated: Feb 28, 2022, 4:12 pm
FILE — Students wearing masks leave the New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math (NEST+...

FILE — Students wearing masks leave the New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math (NEST+m) school in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, Dec. 21, 2021, in New York. New York City public school students will be allowed to remove their masks outside starting next week but must keep them on indoors for now. Schools Chancellor David Banks announced the new policy in a news release Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File)

(AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — New York’s statewide masking requirement in schools will be lifted by March 2, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Sunday, citing a dramatic drop in COVID-19 infections and new federal guidelines.

Hours later, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he’s considering lifting vaccine mandates on restaurants, bars and theaters by early next week if infections and hospitalizations continue their downward trend.

A mask mandate on the city’s approximately 1 million schoolchildren could also be lifted, Adams said in a statement. The decision won’t come until Friday, following a full week of classes after students in the country’s largest school system return from a weeklong vacation, he said.

The pair of announcements signaled an important turning point for the city and state, once an epicenter of the global pandemic.

“The day has come,” Hochul said at a press conference in Albany.

New guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most Americans can now safely take a break from wearing masks, including students in schools.

“That is why I feel very confident that this is the time to lift the mask requirements,” Hochul said.

As of Saturday, state officials said the 7-day average for new cases was fewer than 1,671 for the first time since late July. Other metrics have also fallen rapidly, including hospitalizations and deaths.

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.

The new rules also apply to children 2 years and older in childcare facilities.

Hochul said Adams was consulted before her announcement, including a conversation earlier Sunday.

Despite criticism over the state’s pandemic measures, Hochul said she remained resolute in sticking with experts and health data as her guide and “not let criticism and politics intervene in this decision-making.”

Earlier this month, Hochul let a broad mask mandate for most indoor settings expire, but said the schools requirement would remain in place. She had promised to revisit the schools question by the first week of March.

The broad mask mandate was implemented during a COVID-19 surge fueled by the omicron variant in December.

Masks are still required in some places, including public transit, homeless shelters, jails and prisons, adult care facilities and healthcare settings.

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said lifting the vaccine requirements would be be positive step for restaurants, bars and theaters.

“We need to continue to be smart and safe, and also modify mandates as COVID risks are reduced. So this will be welcome news to many restaurants and bars, although I wouldn’t be surprised if some businesses want to voluntarily keep it in place.” Andrew Rigie, executive director, NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a text message to The Associate Press.

The mayor has been hoping to begin lifting restrictions, but said his decisions, like those of the governor, would be influenced by key metrics.

“New York City’s numbers continue to go down day after day,” Adams said. “So as long as COVID indicators show a low level of risk and we see no surprises this week, on Monday, March 7 we will also lift Key2NYC requirements,” he said.

The Key2NYC program was put in place last August to put pressure on New Yorkers to get vaccinated — or risk losing their access to many of the city’s attractions like museums and theaters, as well as being shut out of restaurants and bars.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Mississippi justices block more DNA tests in death row case

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled that a death row inmate will not be allowed to seek additional DNA testing on crime scene evidence from the shooting deaths of two college students nearly 30 years ago. Willie Jerome Manning, now 54, remains in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. He was […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

UK military investigates hacks on Army social media accounts

LONDON (AP) — British military authorities are trying to find out who hacked the army’s social media accounts over the weekend, flooding them with cryptocurrency videos and posts related to collectible electronic art. The investigation was launched after authorized content on the army’s YouTube account was replaced with a video feed promoting cryptocurrencies that included […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

NASA satellite breaks from orbit around Earth, heads to moon

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A satellite the size of a microwave oven successfully broke free from its orbit around Earth on Monday and is headed toward the moon, the latest step in NASA’s plan to land astronauts on the lunar surface again. It’s been an unusual journey already for the Capstone satellite. It was […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

It’s a new era for funding on both sides of abortion debate

NEW YORK (AP) — The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade has ushered in a new era of funding on both sides of the abortion debate. With the legality of abortion now up to individual states to determine, an issue long debated by legislators and philanthropists — when it was largely theoretical because only […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Top NGO calls Switzerland ‘safe haven’ for Russian oligarchs

LUGANO, Switzerland (AP) — A leading Swiss nongovernmental group on Monday called out Switzerland as a “safe haven” for Russian oligarchs and as a trading hub for Russian oil, grain and coal. Public Eye urged the Swiss executive branch to “use all levers at its disposal to stop the financing of this inhuman aggression,” in […]
6 hours ago
Some 25 tractors parked outside a distribution center for supermarket chain Albert Heijn during a b...
Associated Press

Dutch farmers block entrances to supermarket warehouses

ZAANDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch farmers angry at government plans to slash emissions used tractors and trucks Monday to blockade supermarket distribution centers, the latest actions in a summer of discontent in the country’s lucrative agricultural sector. The Netherlands’ busiest aviation hub, Schiphol Airport, urged travelers to use public transport to get to its terminals […]
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
New York to lift statewide school mask mandate by March 2