face masks

Most NYC Mask Mandates Are Gone — But Here Are 6 Places You Still Need to Wear One

New York City lifted its school mask mandate on Monday, March 7, along with the Key2NYC vaccine mandate for customers

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What to Know

  • Starting Monday, children in K-12 schools run by the NYC Department of Education no longer have to wear masks indoors; the mandate remains in effect for classrooms that serve kids younger than 5
  • Also effective this week: the Key2NYC program requiring businesses to check vaccine status for customers will end. The rule mandating employee vaccinations, though, remains in effect
  • Asked whether he may shift NYC transit mask rules should the CDC opt to change its guidance on that front when it revisits the issue March 18, Mayor Eric Adams said he isn't prepared to do that just yet

After nearly two full years of wearing face coverings through virtually every critical component of daily life, the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are loosening the last stringent rules (that they control, anyway) around masks.

Statewide indoor school mask mandates have dropped in all three tri-states and New York City, the globe's worst-hit hotspot early in the pandemic, removed the last longstanding emblem of the pandemic by lifting the mandate in schools Monday.

The city also suspended its Key2NYC vaccine mandate, implemented by former Mayor Bill de Blasio last summer, requiring customers to show proof of vaccination to enter indoor spaces. The mandate requiring vaccination for all employees, public and private, in the five boroughs remains in effect for the time being.

The developments follow recently updated CDC guidance essentially saying most people don't need to wear face masks in indoor public settings unless there's a high level of severe disease. The health agency's new benchmarks for assessing that threat level currently mean more than 70% of the U.S. population can go maskless.

So where will you still need to wear a mask, after March 7, in the New York area?

There are a few last bastions:

  • Mass transit: The feds require masks on planes and trains (as well as in airports and transit stations), while NYC and NJ transit operators mandate masks on trains, buses and taxes/rideshare services
  • Broadway theaters: Masks are required through April 30, at least
  • Healthcare facilities like hospitals and nursing homes as well as adult care centers
  • Correctional facilities
  • Homeless shelters
  • Individual businesses that choose to mandate masks. State law allows local municipalities to opt for stricter standards around COVID if they so choose
New York City school kids will be able to unmask outdoors but the mandate for masks remain in place indoor for now. NBC New York's Erica Byfield reports.
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