face masks

When Can NYC Kids Under 5 Ditch Face Masks? Mayor Hints at Change Soon

NYC lifted its mask mandate for schools and its vaccine proof rule for businesses earlier this week, but kids younger than 5 are still required to mask up in indoor settings

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • NYC's school mask mandate has been lifted for all public school students except for those younger than 5, more than a few parents of younger kids have been frustrated by the ongoing face covering order
  • On Friday, Mayor Eric Adams told a concerned parent unmasking kids who aren't yet vaccine-eligible is part of his next COVID recovery phase
  • The Democrat didn't say when it might happen but wanted time to assess the data to ensure no additional spikes associated with unmasking the older kids; the numbers have been good so far

New York City lifted its mask mandate for hundreds of thousands of public school students and its COVID vaccine-proof rule for businesses earlier this week, but kids younger than 5 are still required to mask up in indoor settings. When will that end?

Mayor Eric Adams was asked that very question at an unrelated news conference on Friday. He told the frustrated parent in the Bronx who demanded an immediate change and asked him for a sitdown to discuss it.

Adams told her the sitdown wasn't necessary but did say that unmasking kids who aren't yet vaccine-eligible, which includes all those under age 5 at this point, is part of his "next wave" of COVID recovery. He said that next wave would happen "soon" as long as there's no spike in cases, but didn't elaborate on how "soon" it might be.

Core viral rates citywide have remained remarkably low since the rapid plunge in infections and hospitalizations associated with the omicron wave. The current alert level for the five boroughs is "low," according to the new community-based risk assessment tool the mayor debuted last week for tracking the COVID threat.

It doesn't get any lower than that.

The rolling case average is down 24% this last week compared to the rolling average for the prior four weeks, while COVID-associated hospitalizations and death are down 57% and 65% by the same parameters, city health data show.

While the mayor's latest directive lifted two of the most bullish mask mandates for most people, two others remain in effect citywide. The mass transit rule still applies, including at the federal level for at least another month, and so does the order requiring public and private employers to ensure their workers are vaccinated.

It's not clear when the latter two mandates might drop as well.

Which face mask protects best against COVID-19? Chris Glorioso heads to a factory to get the answer.
Contact Us