By Marina Villeneuve • Published February 10, 2022
New York state has ended a COVID-19 mandate requiring face coverings in most indoor public settings, but the masking rules will stay in place in schools for now.
The mask mandate for places like grocery stores, shops and offices was put in place Dec. 10 as the omicron variant began infecting huge numbers of New Yorkers. It expired at midnight Thursday after Gov. Kathy Hochul announced she would not extend the rule.
Hochul said infection rates and hospitalizations have declined to a level where it is safe to rescind the order.
“This fight is not over, we’re not surrendering. This is not disarmament,” she told reporters at her New York City office, “but again the trends are very, very positive.”
Other governors have taken similar steps in recent days, ending masking mandates in public places or in schools. The White House has also signaled it's beginning to prepare for a less-restrictive phase of the national pandemic response.
Masks will still be required in some places in New York, including health care facilities, certain types of shelters and public transit. Private businesses will be free to set their own masking rules for employees and customers.