Governor Hochul lifts NY’s business mask mandate; school mask requirement stands for now

NEW YORK CITY (WHEC) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul will lift the state’s indoor mask-or-vaccine mandate for businesses on Thursday. Mask requirements will remain in place for healthcare facilities, nursing homes, jails, public transit and schools.

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This is separate from the masking mandate in schools, which will continue beyond the winter break period at the end of February. Hochul said a decision on school masking will be made the first week of March.

“Students sit together all day long and in close proximity to each other,” the Governor said at a briefing, “they go to lunch together, they’re involved in gym class together, whereas in a workplace people have the ability for movement. Kids are in a very concentrated setting and also adults can make their own decisions, children still need adults to look out for their health.”

NYS Health Commissioner Dr. Bassett acknowledged that COVID rates in children are declining.

“It is true that children have lower rates of COVID hospitalizations than older people but we did see these go up during the omicron pandemic disproportionately especially among unvaccinated children,” Bassett said.

But, the governor says she wants families to get through break before her team reconsiders whether to allow optional masking in schools.

Break begins on Feb. 21 for most students. When kids and teachers return on the following Monday, “parents will have test kits for the children. We want them to test the day after they come back and then again three days later and let the school know if your child test positive keep them home,” Governor Hochul said, “but by that Friday, just a few days after the children come back, we will be able to look at those numbers.”

If the numbers continue to trend down, the mask mandate in schools could be lifted as soon as March 7th, “that is a very strong possibility but I am, I will factor all the data that’s gathered during that week—look at everything I’ve mentioned as well as global trends and I also want to make sure that our guidance is very thoughtful on what could possibly re-trigger the institution of this again, hopefully never again but we have to be realistic this has not been declared over this pandemic is still with us,” the Governor added.

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