New York City Mayor, Eric Adams, says the city is dropping mask requirements for k-12 schools and lifting proof of vaccine mandates for restaurants and theatres starting next Monday.
New York joins cities and states across the country that are loosening COVID-19 rules after health officials released new guidelines and hospitalisations fell.
Adams made this announcement at a press conference in Times Square, New York on Friday.
He urged people to “come in and enjoy the restaurants, enjoy the businesses, and be a part of this great city without having to show proof of vaccinations.”
In schools, he said, parents would still be allowed to mask their kids.
“I know that some who state that they still want their children to wear their masks, you can. We are not going to get in the way of your discretion,” he said.
Adams touted how safe public schools are, saying that as of this week NYC schools had a COVID-19 positivity rate of 0.18 per cent.
Still, kids under five will be required to keep wearing masks.
“We’ve got to follow the science. The science states that that age group cannot be vaccinated and they have, among children, they’re some of the highest hospitalisation rates.
“So we have to save our children,” Adams said.
In a statement, Adams said the reason “New York City is back” is because of vaccinations.
“Two years ago, New York City was the epicentre of the pandemic, but thanks to New Yorkers getting vaccinated and getting boosted we have made tremendous progress.
“The fight may not be over, but we’re clearly winning the war. We are open for business and New York City has its groove back,” Adams said.
According to him, restaurants, theatres and other indoor venues will no longer have to ask patrons for proof of vaccinations.
“New York City’s restaurant and nightlife industry have been devastated by COVID-19, and over the past two years these small businesses have endured ever changing pandemic mandates that have posed significant challenges to their operations.
“We must continue to be safe and smart, and modify mandates as the situation evolves,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director, NYC Hospitality Alliance.
The mayor’s moves come after Gov. Kathy Hochul, citing steep declines in COVID-19 hospitalisations statewide, announced earlier this week that, effective Wednesday, New York would no longer require students to wear masks in schools.
Individual counties and cities with higher transmission rates could still require masks in schools, and parents and guardians may also still choose to send children to schools in masks, Hochul said.