Adams Plans to Drop Key2NYC Vaccine Mandate, Masks in School; Final Decision Due Friday

It's a major reversal for the city, the former epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic

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Face masks and vaccine cards, two essentials in the everyday lives of New Yorkers, are starting to get phased out in the city whose leaders are looking to return daily life to pre-pandemic habits.

On Sunday, Mayor Eric Adams announced his intention to reverse the city's "Key2NYC" policy, which currently requires anyone 5 and older to show proof of vaccination in order to enter most public spaces, such as restaurants, bars, gyms and grocery stores. He also said he wants to end the indoor mask requirement for students and staff in schools across the city.

Those steps, some of the biggest in New York City's move toward a return to pre-pandemic life, would start Monday, March 7.

"At the end of this week, we will evaluate the numbers and make a final announcement on Friday. If we see no unforeseen spikes and our numbers continue to show a low level of risk, New York City will remove the indoor mask mandate for public school children, effective next Monday, March 7," the mayor said in a statement.

Shortly before Adams' declaration Sunday, the union that represents teachers in New York City released a statement reacting to news the statewide mask order was lifting on Wednesday.

"We are very happy to see that the numbers are going in the right direction. We will confer with our own independent doctors, look at the data from take-home test kits and random in-school testing this week, and make sure all of that is taken into account as New York City reviews its own school masking policy," Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said.

The city's COVID indicators will also be reviewed by the mayor's team before calling for the end of the vaccine mandate. But as long as those indicators "show a low level of risk and we see no surprises this week," that move will go forward as well.

Giving business owners a week before the vaccine mandate falls will allow them "time to adapt," the mayor said.

Adams made sure to point out Sunday that not all mandates would drop next Monday.

"All other vaccine mandates in New York City will remain in place at this time as they are, and have been, vital to protecting New Yorkers," he said at the conclusion of his statement.

Unchanged is the city's vaccine requirement to work. All of the private-sector workers in New York City are still required to be fully vaccinated pursuant to the order put in place by Mayor Bill de Blasio at the end of last year.

The mandates designed and put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 are getting pulled back during a major milestone of the pandemic. It's been two years since New York City found its first case, detected back on March 1, 2020.

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