New York has lifted part of its statewide mask mandate, making it optional to wear face coverings on public transportation and in homeless shelters.
The newly eased restrictions bring New York in line with several other states that lifted their rules requiring face coverings on public transit after a federal judge overturned the federal mask mandate in April. However, New York will retain its mask mandates in some areas, such as hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
“Starting today, masks will be optional in some places where they had previously been required, including on mass transit,” Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted on Wednesday. “Masking requirements will remain in effect at state-regulated health care facilities and clinical settings. We are following the data & will continue to adjust our policies as necessary. We are still in this together.”
The relaxation of the mask mandate on New York’s public transit has been long awaited for months, as Hochul told state residents in mid-April the requirements wouldn’t last much longer. However, the state experienced an uptick in cases over the summer, prompting the state to revert to some of its more stringent restrictions.
COVID-19 cases and coronavirus-related hospitalizations in New York have declined in recent weeks, prompting state officials to begin easing restrictions.
“We are seeing major declines in hospitalizations,” Hochul told reporters on Wednesday. “We have to restore some normalcy to our lives.”